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What Happened to Me When I Did Not Respond to a Telephone Message

I received a call the other day.  It was different than most.  It was a man who clearly left his name and number, repeating each once.  Nothing else was said.  He gave no purpose for the call.  He never told me how he got my name.  I chose to record his name and number to see if it might be someone I knew and just forgot this name.

After two days, while driving, my cellular phone rang.  Being a good California driver, I answered my phone using my hands free headset.  (For those of you who would like to reach me regularly by telephone call, me while I am driving.  I never check who is calling while I am driving.)  It was my caller from two days before.  Now, it was Friday afternoon after 5 PM, I was on my way to dinner with Lynne.

Once we connected he asked if this was a good time to speak.  I told him what I was doing. He then told me that someone I did not know referred me.  I also mentioned that I did not want to speak to someone who leaves blind telephone messages without stating a purpose for the call. He was shocked at my response.  I cordially wished him well and disconnected from the call.  Later that evening he called again.  He was nearly in tears as he told me how rude I was, conceited, and arrogant.  He also mentioned that he was glad that we did not connect because now he would not be obligated to introduce me to his billionaire clientele.

Now I was really troubled.  When I am troubled I call in my team of Advocates to survey what they might have done.  I sent them the following by email:

  • Please answer the question below “yes” or “no.”
  • Basis for question: You get a call/message from a stranger who only leaves their name and telephone number. No reason for the call nor who might have given your name to them.
  • Question: Do you return the call?

Below is a sample of the responses. In total I had 15 responses.  Eight said, “NO” and seven said,  “YES.”  Two answered “yes” and “no.

1.  As a magazine yes, as it may be a reader who needs info – we get that all the time.
Business wise – no, it usually means they are trying to sell you something and alarm bells go off.

2. YES. I have returned calls like this and they have been referrals. I believe in returning calls I receive which may seem strange, but then again, I am! I always figure it takes a few moments to find out who it is, and what they want, and I wouldn’t want to find out later I missed a big opportunity by not returning a phone call. Is this a test? Did I answer right?

3. No.  Interesting question – I probably will not call them back unless there’s something interesting and amusing about their voice. If it’s someone who wants to talk to me they will probably call back – that includes sales people, my cousin, bill collectors and other people who want something from me.

4. No.  My first thought would be that this person wanted something that would be to their advantage and not mine.

5. Yes. I always instruct my staff to never take messages or send callers to voicemail unless they know my name. So, if I get a message as you described, I would assume that the caller at least knew my name, and I would return the call.

6. At the risk of not giving you a clean ‘yes’ or ‘no’…The truth is that I follow my intuition. If it feels like a solicitor, I don’t return it. Otherwise, I generally do.

7. Yes.  The reason I would return the person’s call would be simply out of my own curiosity. My phone system gives me information as to if it is a telemarketing call. If it were a real human voice, I would call and say my name is and you left a message for me without giving a reason why you called.

There is no right or wrong answer. It is interesting to note that people who have a greater need for more clients are more likely to return the call than those who have an established clientele base.  I believe that it is best to do business from the high road.  When leaving a telephone message I always leave the reason for my call and the name of the person who referred me.  I have been taught by numerous telephone experts to leave my name, repeat my telephone number, then my name and the reason for my call to get a response.  I believe this is proper etiquette today.


Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA.  He works with people in business who want to attract the right prospects and generate more referrals.  More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability.  Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.

His book series, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, are available on the website,

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses.  He is a networking dynamo.  Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together—which is why he started IntegritY.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is a Distinguished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to  For more information, go to

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