Lori signature

What Does Networking for Business Have to do with Answering Your Phone?

How does networking for business have anything to do with answering your phone?

Have you ever called a business and heard the person on the other end of the phone simply answer with, “Hello?”

Now you’re thinking “I thought I was calling XYZ Accounting. I may have the wrong number.”

“Is this XYZ Accounting?” you ask.

“Yeah. How can I help you?” is the reply.

Making Customers Feel Weird & Uncomfortable

That whole encounter is weird and uncomfortable. Do you want to make your potential clients or customers feel weird and uncomfortable when they call you? I doubt it. That’s why it’s important to answer the phone in a professional manner.

Yes, yes. I am all about overcoming your fear of networking and helping you build business relationships. What’s answering the phone got to do with that?

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneHere’s what. When you meet someone at a networking event and they follow up with you via a phone call, it behooves (vocabulary word for today, look it up) you to present a professional image. Even if you are a solopreneur. It’s part of your branding and marketing.

First of all, you want callers to know they’ve reached the right place.

Second, you want to put callers at ease and welcome them. Give the impression you’re happy to talk with them.

If, for some reason, you’re not happy to take a call right now, don’t answer the phone, and let them go to voicemail. (We’ll get to your voice mail message in a moment.)

Reciting All Your Terms & Conditions Isn’t Necessary

You certainly don’t want to make callers listen to a whole long speech before they can talk, so it’s best to keep it simple. If it’s before noon,

I’ll say, “Good morning. Thanks for calling The Quiet Girls. This is Lori.” Now they know what company they’ve reached and exactly with whom they’re speaking.

And say it with a smile. Even if they can’t see you, callers can hear a smile in your voice.

Running more than one venture or have some other reason for not wanting to identify a company name? Ok. Simply go with “Good morning. This is Lori.” At least give the caller some kind of connection to who’s answering the phone.

Jeg Taler Ikke Dansk

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneWhen I did a semester abroad and lived with a family in Copenhagen, Denmark, I learned that the standard way of answering the phone there is to say your phone number. Presumably that’s so the person calling gets confirmation of what number they’ve dialed.

I tried never to answer my family’s phone, because, despite daily language lessons from my family members, my Danish was not so good. There’s no way I could have said the number well enough that the caller could understand me.

And then of course, I wouldn’t have been able to carry on the rest of the conversation in Danish either.

Now that we all have phone numbers programmed into our phones or we simply click a link and it auto dials for us, I wonder if the Danish still answer their phones that way.

Let it Go to Voicemail

Then there’s the issue of people not answering their phone at all if they don’t recognize the incoming number. I admit it. I am guilty of this habit.

We’ve been driven to this practice because of all the robo and telemarketing calls! Very often, I’ll let a call go to voicemail and hope the caller leaves a message. If they do, I’ll call back right away. No message, no callback.

It’s terrible that it’s come to this, but no one’s got time to deal with computer woman saying, “Hello. You’ve been preapproved for a business loan of up to $10,000…” Arg!

Leave Your Name at the Tone

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneSo not only do you need to have a professional way to answer the phone when you do pick up incoming calls, you also need a professional sounding outgoing voice mail message.

Again, you want to sound welcoming. Confirm the caller’s reached the right place and encourage her to leave a message.

I like to actually script out my message and practice it a few times before I record it so it sounds natural.

Right now when you call my voicemail, you’ll hear “Hi there! You’ve reached the voice mail for Lori Saitz and The Quiet Girls. Let me know who you are and how to reach you back. We’ll connect soon!”

Your message doesn’t have to be long, nor do you need to tell the caller to start at the tone. People know that by now.

It’s surprising though how many people won’t leave their call back number, so it is a good idea to remind them of that part! If you’re the one leaving the message for someone else, never assume they’ll see your call back number show up as a matter of course.

Texting does not rule in the business world. Phone calls do still take place, so make sure you’re putting your best foot – er – voice forward and setting the stage for a good relationship.

Help!

Should you call those people you met at last night’s after hours event? What should you do with those business cards you collected? If you need assistance figuring out the follow up after a networking event, let’s chat. Pick a time for a complimentary 15-minute call with me here.

Lori signature

You’ve Gotta Pick a Lane

My friend Dawn recently published an article about political activism. In it she writes that if you want to actually accomplish anything, it’s important to focus on only one or two issues. Nothing gets accomplished when you’re trying to do everything all at once. I thought immediately about how the message applies to your business too.

Too many solopreneurs and business owners are running down too many paths. It’s an exhausting exercise in futility. In order to make a real impact, you have to focus on the most important thing. You hear people talking about priorities all the time. When you Google the word priority, you see it defined as “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” So you technically can’t have five or 10 priorities. You can have ONE.

In business, you can’t truly have five or 10 areas of focus. Pick one, maybe two if they’re closely related.

Have you ever met someone who, when you ask “what do you do?” comes back with “Well, I’m a real estate agent and I also run a social media marketing company. On Mondays I teach guitar lessons to kids. Oh, and I have a wedding planning business. Sometimes I help my husband with bookkeeping for his landscaping company.” Holy freaking cow! Really? You do all that?

You can NOT seriously be focused and good at doing ALL those things! I walk away from that conversation thinking this person is a disorganized mess. And there is no way I would call on her for any of those services, much less send her a referral.

Of course you want to have a full life and not miss out on anything. But when you can’t quickly and easily state your area of expertise, more often than not, it’s a case of hedging your bets. You’re not confident enough in your abilities to focus on one thing and say you’re an expert in that area.

Think about it though. Experts get paid more than generalists. Cardiologists get paid more than general practitioners. And if I had a heart condition, I want the best cardiologist I can find – not someone who dabbles in heart health and also podiatry and sells hearing aids on the side!

When it comes to your business, you need to pick a lane. What do you do and how do you do it? How exactly you define your lane is up to you and open for discussion. Some people define a niche by industry – “I work with high tech sales professionals.” That’s one way to go. You can also define your market by the size of their business – say companies with $10-50 million in gross revenue. Or by certain characteristics or demographics, such as vegetarian women who work full-time and have young children in day care. You have a million choices here.

You can carefully define exactly what you offer so you attract only those who need exactly what you can deliver. I’m thinking of my friend and mentor Jan, who teaches people to be BOLD speakers. She doesn’t narrow her market to any one industry or demographic. She defines her ideal people as those who want to become better speakers. They might be in corporate or own their own business or work for the government. Doesn’t matter if they’re men, women, CEOs, emerging leaders, engineers, or sales people. What’s important is her clear definition of what she does and what she delivers. So everyone knows, if you want to be a BOLD speaker, you work with Jan.

I guide quiet girls from feeling intimidated in networking situations to confidently starting conversations with strangers so they can build relationships that support the success their businesses.

Are you as clear about what benefit you provide and to whom? If you’re not, you’re making it a thousand times more difficult on yourself to get clients and for people to send you referrals.

Clarity leads to action.

When people know who you are, what you do, and exactly with whom you work best, they can refer business to you. If they’re confused, they’ll just move on. We don’t have the patience or attention span to spend time figuring it out. Make it easy to understand and easy to remember what you stand for. Once you do that, when you go to networking events, you can confidently share your excitement and expertise and stand out in the mind of the people you meet.

Need help with clearly defining what you do, how and for whom? Let’s set up a quick call to see if I can be of service in helping you get clarity around your marketing message.

photo credits: stressed woman & confused emoticon ©