Recently my organization was seeking support in Chicago for a very last minute, emergency detail for a long term client. Throughout the morning I either received or initiated calls to a host of individuals interested in assisting. Fortunately, I was able to secure the necessary resources and all went well. The following comments are not meant to be critical as much as constructive regarding the importance of phone etiquette and how it relates to your “brand”.
Admittedly I place a great deal of emphasis, perhaps more than most or even more than I should, on appearance and communications skills, written and verbal. However, I believe you have to always be your very best and stand out, by constantly promoting your “personal brand” confidently and professionally, in order to be successful in this industry.
When answering the phone, especially when you do not recognize the incoming number, do so professionally. Do not simply say “hello”. Answer the phone with a greeting such as “hello this is John Smith.”
Take a few minutes to compose yourself before answering the call. Even if you have just been woken by the call or are exhausted from a long day, take a few seconds to compose yourself, clear your throat, get your mind right and answer with a calm, measured tone and with a positive attitude. Your groggy, barely intelligible voice does not instill a level of confidence I am seeking from someone I am entrusting with the protection of my client.
If you are driving and want to take the call, pull over if possible to focus on the call so you do not miss an important detail. Keep pen and paper in your car for taking notes. Additionally, there will be less likely a chance of dropping the call as you move from phone tower to phone tower.
If you are out; at the gym, grocery shopping, standing in line at the bank, wherever, and you want to take the call, advise the other party immediately as you make your way to an appropriate location to continue the conversation. “Hello, this is Jim, please stand by for one minute while I move to a better location to speak with you.” Place your phone on mute as you reposition. Continue with “thank you so much for holding and how may I help you.”
Have a professional message on your phone should you miss the call. Having the message “Yo, you know what to do” informs me you are not a serious professional and I will not be leaving a message. I cannot fathom using you and potentially letting my client hear that message, should they need to reach you via phone.
Your verbal communication is as much a part of your “personal brand” as is your appearance, even more so when dealing with sight-unseen, phone conversations. Professional verbal skills provide those on the other end of the phone with a level of professionalism, self-awareness, and confidence they are seeking right out of the gate.
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