We need to talk.
You and your phone...you're together 24 hours a day. You've got Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Instagram and apparently you have email and hey, look--that thing even makes phone calls!
Yes, that computer in your pocket--you can use it to actually talk with another person!
What I mean when I leave you a voicemail that sounds like, "I need a pianist/conductor/recording engineer/graphic designer/web developer/photographer for this project I'm working on, so please call me as soon as you can" that means I really want you to call me as soon as you can. I want you to call me. Even more: when you call me back and say yes, I will actually pay you money.
I know, crazy, right?!
It seems so simple...yet it is so complex for some people. It's like the world of freelance has become the world of dating, where if you don't like someone enough for a second date, you just don't call them back. It's pretty immature. The world of freelance is becoming the world of "I don't care/the answer is no/I don't have time, so I'm not calling back."
And it's crap.
When you don't call people back or don't answer an email or don't respond to an inquiry, it sends the message that you are irresponsible, disrespectful, and makes you look like you don't care. It doesn't matter if "that's how people deal with things" these days. It's a load of hooey and you know it.
Worse: it costs you money. Because you don't get the gig. AND you don't get the gig(s) that could have followed. I promise when you are a pianist who doesn't respond to an inquiry and you don't answer my email or voicemail, you get automatically demoted. You get put on the 'B List.' People I only call if I have to...because you're now my second (or even third) choice. I will call every single person on my A List before I will ever call you. And often, I will call people I don't know before I call you--because they will often call back when you didn't.
Answering inquiries and requests is a form of marketing. It's also good customer service, but think of this: in marketing, it used to be that people needed to hear your message 7-10 times before they would respond. That was before Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other social media site out there. Now it's likely multiple times that.
If someone recommends you to me: your name is in front of me once. If you respond, no matter if you say yes or no, your name just got in front of me twice. See how it works?
When you don't respond at all, you cost people like me time and money. You didn't call me back. And because you were unresponsive/lazy/too "busy" to even send a 1-line email/too lost in your Facebook feed to come back to earth and get something done, I had to call multiple other people, ask for more recommendations, call and research other people. You who didn't call me back have wasted my time.
Do you want to know the easiest way to get more work? Call people back. Return their email. Respond to their Facebook comment. The best advice comes from this Entrepreneurial Guru:
Your future is in the follow-up.
Anybody willing to bet that isn't true?
Listen, you pianists, you singers, you composers, you conductors, you teachers, you working professionals whom other people pay to provide a service. Make it as easy as possible for people to leave their money with you.
So check your spam folder as often as you check your email. (Yeah, and by the way, when you change your email, you should email everyone you've ever met and tell them. Except that person you went on 1 date with and don't like. You can skip that person.) Answer all your voicemail within 24 hours. Do NOT ever say, "Can you call me back in 2 hours?" Write it in ink on the back of your hand and call me back.
Here are a few great options for responses: