Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reaching Out Just Isn’t the Same

With email, websites, cell phones, crackberrys – whoops, I mean Blackberrys – you’d think getting in touch with someone would be simple.

Not always the case. Sometimes I’m referred to someone else, or they to me, so my fingers haven’t done the walking long enough to enter their information into my contact list.

This happened recently, where a colleague asked me to call someone at a competing company over something or other. I got the colleagues name and I knew the company’s web address, so I did the logical thing – I surfed over to the company’s website looking for a phone number.

The company, as many companies these days do, had a wealth of information on their website. Everything from a corporate history, a passionate set of guiding principles, even a cornucopia of the executive who’s who, complete with perfectly posed pictures of each higher-up.

But as hard as I looked, there wasn’t a single phone number on this website. No mailing address – a post-office box was found, but I didn’t want to mail a letter. Not even a single email address. Well, that’s not entirely true, if I encountered a problem with the website, I could email their webmaster.

They did have a method of communication – a pretty bland web-based form, which I could fill out, and submit to some unknown individual or group of individuals, to vet, decide whether my message was worthy of passing on, and maybe, just maybe I’d get a response.

Assuming I had all the time in the world to fill out such forms to begin with – that’s a pretty vain assumption on the part of some companies these days.

This isn’t the first time I’ve hit a communications brick wall of sorts, when trying to make contact in the business world.

I know we are all very busy people, but doesn’t it make sense to have some method of direct contact posted on a corporate website?

I can understand the concern with webots sweeping across the Internet, to capture email addresses and phone numbers for use in unsolicited marketing schemes. But there are ways to stop automatic webots from stealing these things, either by using third-party tools, or just from having the right HTML code.

Maybe these companies are overrun with requests for jobs by those seeking work? Or maybe these companies are up to no good.

That’s my line of thinking – nothing good comes from those who hide. They must be up to something and it just ain’t kosher.

Still, my original dilemma exists – how to contact this colleague – I just wanted to invite him to lunch to talk shop and share ideas. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Networking is key in the business world, but some companies that appear to be up to no good make that an almost impossibility.

Maybe I’ll just email the webmaster and tell him or her that their website is broken. No, I didn’t find a bad link, and it didn’t crash my web browser. But it didn’t do what a website should allow you to do – make contact.

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