“What do you do when the phone rings?” It’s a question I get asked often. My answer is that if I’m sitting at my desk, unless I’m in the middle of a conversation, I answer it.

I’ve discovered a lot about people’s “phone answering” habits.

These past few months have been fascinating. I set out on a mission to call a thousand people (everyone on my email subscription list for whom I have a phone number). My goal was to get beyond email and actually speak with people, to get to know them. I’ve made lots of calls.

Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned as I’ve called:

1. We never leave home without our phone because we’re afraid to be out of touch, yet very few people actually answer the phone when it rings and even fewer return messages.

2. Everyone I’ve spoken with has been happy to have the opportunity to speak with a business coach who has had a successful business for the past ten years. I have offered people suggestions for their business (and sometimes the opportunity to work with me). Everyone I spoke with thanked me for my time and not a single person said, “I don’t want to speak with you.” On top of that several people told me that my mission was inspiring them to pick up the phone and connect more intimately with people too.

3. Successful business owners answer their phone. My email subscription list has thousands of people on it. Some have successful businesses, some don’t. What has surprised me the most is that those who have the most successful businesses include their phone number on their website and pick up their own phone when it rings. They are not too busy doing other things when opportunities present themselves.

Bottom line: When the phone rings it is an opportunity to connect. I know there are times when you truly can’t take a call at that moment, you might be in the middle of something, and it’s simply not an opportune moment to talk, but what I’ve found is that the people who do take advantage of the opportunity to connect are the ones whose business is growing. They take advantage of opportunities when they have them.

Getting a phone call from anyone is an opportunity to connect. You never know what the person on the other end of the phone has to share with you. Sometimes it’s in line with what you are doing or what you need, other times it’s not.

As I’ve made these phone calls I’ll admit that it does get frustrating leaving messages but the conversations I’ve had, when the phone is answered, have been amazing opportunities for me to get to know some fabulous entrepreneurs.