Promptly.

More than a week ago, I emailed a dozen places requesting information I thought they'd have. Only two emailed back. (A couple more didn't have email so I had to call. They said somebody would call back but nobody did).

My initial thought was that the ones that blew me off were a bunch of jerks. But I realized, no, they're probably just clueless.

They may not have possessed the info I wanted and didn't know what to say to me. So they said nothing.

They were wrong. Here's the proper way to handle things:

1. If you don't have the information someone requests, say you don't have it and refer the caller to another place, if you can. Don't ignore people.

2. If you don't have the information but can get it, tell that to the caller, get the info, and call back with it. Don't leave people wondering if they'll ever hear back from you.

3. If the request falls outside your area of activity, say so. And apologize for not being able to help, even if there is no reason for you to help. Don't ignore people.

4. If you think you get too many calls, improve your ability to handle the volume. Don't ignore people.

5. If you don't think people should be calling you for this information, figure out why they are and then find a way to change that.

You don't have to return unsolicited sales calls. But you do have to return everybody else's calls.

Don't ignore people.