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Reach Out And Impress Someone

One of the most important communication tools you have is the telephone. Often times, we deal with people exclusively on the phone, and how you present yourself is just as important to your success as the physical impression you make when meeting somebody in person.

Every situation comes with it's own set of rules for behavior, so it is important that you learn and embrace them if you want to put your best foot & or voice forward.

Placing A Call
Unless you happen to be calling somebody with a direct line, chances are pretty good that the first person you speak with will be somebody screening the call in some way. If you've ever had the experience of working as a receptionist, then you know that these people have demanding, often very hectic jobs. Be considerate and make their job as easy as possible. They're going to need some information, and it's nice if you can provide that before waiting to be asked.

Begin by identifying yourself: Hi, this is your name. Then tell them who you are calling: I'm calling for the person you're calling. If the person you're calling doesn't know who you are then add: regarding the reason you called. Otherwise move directly to the close: Is s/he available please? Remember to always use please and thank you. You are dealing with a real person who has feelings. Be as polite and courteous as possible.

Leaving A Message
Voice mail is a fact of life these days. Many people don't like voice mail because it feels too impersonal, or they find themselves rambling, but used properly, it can also be an effective tool that saves you time. As you find yourself fed into a voice mail system, begin to organize your thoughts so that you'll know what you're going to say. Just as with a normal phone call, put a big smile on your face, and try to sound friendly. After all, somebody is going to hear this.

Begin your message by identifying yourself, and giving your phone number. Speak the numbers clearly and slowly enough for somebody to write them down. Move on to a concise description of why you called. If you need them to do something, or want information from them, be sure to include that in the message so they can have it ready when they get back to you. Finish the message by once again leaving your number in case they missed it the first time, and tell them what you would like them to do next. That is whether they should call you, or expect a call later. Once again remember to be friendly and polite.

Receiving A Call
Often times, companies will have scripts they would like you to use when answering the phone. If you don't know if that is the case in your company, you should ask. In general, or if there is no preferred script, try to answer the call on the first or second ring. Identify the company or department (sometimes it's possible to tell by the ring whether it is an external or internal call). Identify yourself, and ask what you can do to be of service to the caller. So answering a call might sound something like this: Thank you for calling Company, This is Your Name, how may I help you?

Receiving Voice Mail Messages
As you review your messages, it's a good idea to have a pen and paper so that you can make notes. Usually this is faster and more efficient than playing the message back again. When somebody takes the time to leave you a message, be sure you take the time to listen to it completely, and follow up on what they need as much as possible before returning the call. For instance, if you get a call asking about the revised pricing for widgets, it would be a good idea to have those price lists in front of you when you call them back. That way you come across as somebody who is prepared and competent with important information literally at your fingertips.

Outgoing Messages
Most people know that their outgoing voice mail messages should be to the point and professional. Often times though, people view their personal answering machine message as a chance to let their creativity shine. If however you receive business calls Ñ especially if you're in the middle of a job search where you have every reason to believe that a potential employer will be calling to try to arrange an interview, then your outgoing message should reflect the professionalism you need to establish. After all, first impressions can be made on the phone just like in person, and you don't want to give a potential employer any reason to dismiss you from consideration.

Finally, remember that while you are working, the phone is a tool of business. If you have personal calls to make, always make them during your personal time for instance during breaks or lunch. Even better, wait to make the calls when you get home.

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