As teenagers, we painfully learned that if you call someone and they don’t call you back, they’re just not into you. If you keep calling, you must be a total loser.

But in the business world, it’s the opposite: persistence is polite, and if you don’t keep calling, you must be a loser.

Imagine this:

  • You call me, and get my voicemail. You leave a message.
  • You don’t know that I hardly ever listen to voicemail.
  • A few days later you call again, but I’m out, so you leave a message with a real person in my office.
  • I see a message on my desk that you called, and I mean to call you, but I get distracted.
  • My desk fills up with other stuff, and buries the little message, so I forget.
  • You email me to let me know you’ve been trying to reach me, but your email arrives just as I’m leaving for a conference for 5 days.
  • When I return from the conference, I’ve got 1000 emails in my IN box.
  • You call again, talk to someone in my office, and tell them to tell me it’s important, that you’ve left messages with no reply.
  • They come knock on my office door to tell me you’re on the phone.
  • I finally pick up the phone and say, “Hi! Sorry I was hard to reach.”

At this point, I am sincerely glad that you had the manners to keep trying, because I really did want to talk to you.

Imagine this, instead:

  • You call me, and get my voicemail. You leave a message.
  • I get busy with other things, and forget to call you back.
  • You silently rage for years, thinking I’m an asshole, thinking I hate you, so you hate me, too.

Calling once, and never again like that, is rude and inconsiderate.

In this business, you have to prove that something is important to you by being persistent. If you mail someone a package, and don’t follow-up until you reach them, it means you didn’t care.

Persistence is polite and considerate, because it shows that you understand how busy people can get. It also shows how much you care.