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?
Here’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
When 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
So 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 Zen Rabbit. 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.
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.