Guest Author - Vannie Ryanes
Since so many people use their cell phones as their primary telephone, consider using your land telephone as your business phone and use your voice mail as a personal assistant.
Make sure your voice mail announces the date and time of all incoming messages. This can be crucial to conducting your business. If a client called Friday morning and you were away several days, when you return your client's telephone you can say 'I am sorry that I missed your call Friday morning.' This type callback makes clients and customers much more forgiving.
In addition to making and receiving business calls from your land telephone, use it to send reminders to yourself. It is like having a secretary.
Voice Mail as Secretary
Send yourself reminders as you think of them. You can call leave the following messages:
_Call the American Cancer Society regarding volunteer breakfast,
_Write article concerning voice mail,
_Send congratulatory e-mail to Leslie on selling her article to a travel magazine,
_Send URL for Savoy Records to Linda before August 29. She needs for her early morning meeting,
_Place order for Watkins customer samples. You need Black Pepper and Chicken Soup Base.
These are all actual reminders from me to myself. I usually send them late at night for the next day, but also as I think of them. I listen to my voice mails early in the morning then take the appropriate action. If you work outside of the home you can send the same type reminders to your home.
Voice Mail as Receptionist
Some services include a forwarding-busy line/don't answer option. If you use your telephone a lot and receive a large volume of business calls this is a must have service. Rather than hearing the standard 'leave a message' recording, the caller learns that you are there but taking another telephone call. Sample response "Hello - this is Mary of Mary Brown and Associates. I am on the telephone right now, please leave your name and telephone number and I will call you back shortly", (as soon as possible, etc.) Then be sure to call back. You may find that your client is willing to wait if he or she knows that you are in your office and will get back to them.
Online Assistants and Gatekeepers
Use your online calendar for meeting reminders
Large organizations use online calendars you can to. Post the day, time, place and reason for the meeting on your calendar. Then set up an e-mail reminder. You can set meetings a day or year in advance. If the meeting is recurring, set the calendar to record that fact. This way you will never use that time slot for something else unless you choose to.
Use your online calendar to remind you of birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates
Take some time to enter birthdays and anniversaries of family members and business associates. Add a sentence or two when entering business associate information, something such as, “enjoys Italian food”, now you have a gift idea.
If your online service does not have an interactive calendar, I suggest getting a free account with Yahoo, or another service that has a calendar. You can set up a “My Yahoo” page and have a calendar and a note pad at no cost. While you are at it, this free service is a good place to have your subscriptions sent as well. Even though this is not your primary e-address your screen name for this secondary site should be professional.
What to Do If You Have Dial-Up Internet Service
All is not lost. Consider using a service like CallWave or if you are an AOL user, they have their own service which is similar to CallWave. You can continue working online while listening to your caller. You have the option of taking the telephone call, allowing the service to record the message or transferring to your cell phone. CallWave has a telemarketer blocker and gives you the option of accepting telephone calls where the caller has blocked his name and number. This type of service works the same as your regular call-waiting service. I am only familiar with the two services I have mentioned, be sure to check for others.