When I worked for Noble Energy, I was very guarded with my cell phone number. I had to be. Working in communications for one of the top two oil and gas producers in the entire state makes you very popular.
Couple that with my general philosophy of accepting cold calls from pretty much anyone, guarding my cell phone number became a survival technique. Why did I let people cold call me? Because although I have extreme confidence in my ability and creativity, I’m not nearly arrogant enough to believe I could predict or self-generate where every next great idea came from. So I liked to listen. Give me your best pitch, and if it’s cool, creative, and/or otherwise worth doing, let’s do it. Let’s push. Let’s advance the methods, venues and fora in which we talk about this business.
I got some great ideas this way, and forged a number of interesting partnerships. Still, relative to the size of my overall network, few had my cell phone number. It wasn’t on my business card, wasn’t in my email signature and I only read it aloud on my outgoing office voice mail message, which means, if someone wanted to have it permanently, they had to write it down or type it, then manually edit their contact card for me and add it. Sort of a hassle. Again, this was by design.
Let’s fast forward to the present. I’m now on my own. No office phone number, only a cell phone from which to conduct all my business.
I’ve had happen more than a couple of times a text message sent to people I consider close professional acquaintances that were met with the response, “I don’t have this number in my phone. Who is this?”
At first, I felt deflated. How do you not know me? I thought we were close! Am I no longer important to you now that I don’t work for the giant corporation? My, how the world is a cold place.
Then I snap out of my pity party and remember that I live in a problem of my own creation. People don’t have your cell phone number because you never gave it to them, dummy. So I text back, give them my cell number – which, incidentally, I’ve had since I was 18 – and tell them it’s my primary contact number now.
Things change remarkably when you leave the corporate world and branch out on your own… which is a statement so banal, a fake, vinyl ficus in the corner of your drab, neon-lit office just withered and died from boredom at the groaningly facile insight that platitude provided, but it’s abundantly true.
So much so, I had no reason to ponder how an exceedingly minor way in which I conducted myself previously would spill into my new life. This is happening more and more.
So, do you need my cell phone number? I’m not dumb enough to leave it out here for all the spambots to find, but hit me up via email, and I’ll be happy to provide. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talk to you soon.