Telephone Techniques: Boost Your Productivity With Effective Phoning

One of the things that most impacts people’s productivity is not being able to focus on completing one task at a time – we are so overloaded with tasks and interruptions that it requires great discipline to avoid spending the entire day responding to other people’s agendas. Telephone calls, both making and receiving them, are one of the greatest disruptions to the flow of the day and to our ability to concentrate on the task at hand. And the use of mobile phones, while a great asset to our business and personal lives, requires a whole new set of communication skills as well as business and social etiquette. By managing how and when we make and receive calls we can not only make better use of our time but make a better impression on the person at the other end of the line, too.

Outgoing Calls

Make a time. Allocate a specific time or times to make your outgoing calls, including return calls to people who have left messages for you. This way you won’t disrupt yourself mid-task to make a call you just remembered you need to make – simply make a note of it and call during the allocated times. You’ll also be better able to focus on the conversation and the needs of the person you are calling when you are focused on the call, rather than trying to fit it in while you’re concentrating on something else.

Think before you speak. Think about the call before you make it – know the reasons why you are calling and what you want to come out of the conversation. Also, think about the timing from the point of view of the person you are calling – consider whether you are calling them at a time when you know they’ll be trying to get out the door, or when they’re likely to be busiest in their own business, and schedule your calls at appropriate times.

Clear your desk. Clear everything from your desk that does not relate to the person you are calling to avoid becoming distracted or tempted to do two things at once. Make sure you have any previous correspondence or materials that you’ll need to refer to on hand.

Identify yourself. Unless you are absolutely certain that the person answering your call will know who you are and where you are from, identify yourself clearly at the beginning of the conversation. If you are contacting the person for the first time it can also be useful to give them a context – it will save both of you any embarrassment and allow the person you are calling to focus on what it is you are saying, rather than wondering who you are, for example: “Good morning Simone, this is Neen James from Neen James Communications calling; you might recall we met at Jennifer’s book launch last week?”

When you say ‘this is’ before stating your name it alerts your caller that you are about to say your name which makes it easier for them to take note, especially if they don’t know you. Take the time to enunciate clearly – there’s nothing worse than when someone speaks too quickly or mumbles and you have to ask again, ‘Sorry, who’s speaking?’

Is this a good time? Another essential phone call opener is to enquire whether you are calling at a convenient time. Many people will answer the phone at even the most inconvenient times, which usually results in their feeling annoyed at you! So ask: “Good morning Simone, this is Neen James from Neen James Communications calling; you might recall we met at Jennifer’s book launch last week? I thought I’d give you a call to further discuss that project we were talking about – is now a convenient time for you?”

Leave a detailed message. If you don’t get through to the person you are calling, leave a detailed message – whether by voicemail or with the person who does answer the phone. Make sure you include the time and date you called, a brief mention of what you are calling about and how and when they can contact you. If you are going to be difficult to catch or have scheduled some time during which you won’t be taking phone calls yourself, by leaving a contact time you can avoid a frustrating game of ‘phone tag’.

Incoming Calls

Answer? Decide whether to answer the call or to let it go through to voicemail. This is not about avoiding people but about ensuring that you don’t answer a call (if you don’t have to) when you know you’re not able to give your full attention to the caller. If you’re in the middle of something and you don’t wish to be interrupted, it’s more polite to allow the caller to leave you a message and make a return call when the timing is better.

Introduce yourself. Answer the call by introducing yourself clearly: “Good morning, Neen James Communicaitons, this is Neen James speaking”, this identifies you and your business to your caller.

Pay attention. If you’ve decided to answer the call, and then decided to carry on with the conversation rather than asking to return the call at a more convenient time – do your caller the courtesy of paying attention. Disinterest or lack of attention can very easily be heard in your voice – as can the typing that you continue to do while making all the right ‘aha’ sounds and the shuffling of paper at your desk. Stop what you are doing and pay attention, or tell the caller you’ll call back later if it’s not a convenient time.

Relax. Speak as though the caller is sitting across the table from you and speak in your usual face-to-face conversational style, rather than in a special ‘telephone voice’.

Smile. It is a proven fact that a smile can be ‘heard’ on the other end of the phone. Your callers will appreciate your friendly approach.

Stand up. Especially if it’s an important call or one you are nervous about, stand up. When you do, it allows more air to circulate through your lungs, your voice will sound more relaxed and maintain an even tone which can also give you an ‘air of authority’.

Keep it short. You’d be surprised how much time is wasted on the phone. There’s nothing wrong with politely managing the conversation, get straight to the point, for example: “Hi Bob, what can I do for you today?”

Thanks for calling. Always end by thanking your caller for calling.

Mobile calls

Leave a message. Provide message bank for your callers. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to contact someone who does not have the courtesy to provide the facility to leave a message when they are unavailable. In your recorded message let callers know when they can expect to hear from you, for example: “Please leave a message and I will return your call within 24 hours”. Taylor make your messages according to your travel plans or holidays to notify callers when you will be returning.

If you call a mobile phone are diverted to message bank – leave a message. The person you are trying to reach may only be available to check their messages and return calls at a certain time, if you don’t leave a message they won’t be able to call or SMS you and you’ll become frustrated at not being able to contact them.

Clear your messages. Clear your message bank regularly and make return calls or send SMSs to people who have left messages for you within an appropriate period of time.

Turn if off. There must be a lot of people who don’t realise that mobile phones have ‘off’ buttons! Switching off your mobile at certain times is a demonstration of courtesy and respect for the people you are with or the place you are in. In meetings and seminars, at meals, in church, at the theatre, movies or other public places – turn it off. Your callers will be able to leave you a message and you can return the call at a more appropriate time.

Do it in the lift. Get into the habit of turning your phone to silent mode or switching off your phone in the lift on your way to a meeting, and switching it back on to check your messages in the lift on the way out of the meeting. This simple ritual will save you the embarrassment of your phone ringing during an important meeting. If you are expecting a call that you absolutely must take, explain that you are waiting for the call and may need to be excused when it comes through. Switch your phone to silent and discretely exit the room to take the call when it comes.

Keep it short. Many people are uncomfortable with lengthy mobile phone conversations for a number of reasons – health, privacy and cost among them – so keep it short and to the point.

Can you talk right now? If you are making the call, acknowledge that the person you are calling could be with other people, on the bus, train or driving, or somewhere where they can’t hear you properly or speak loudly – always ask: “Can you talk right now?” before launching into your conversation.

Consider the time. Be considerate about time and, unless there is good reason, don’t contact people on their mobile number outside of business hours.

Who else is there? If you answer a call while you’re in your car, let the caller know you’re driving. If you are on speakerphone and there’s a passenger with you, let your caller know who’s with you to avoid any embarrassing situations and ensure confidentiality.

First things first. Always be professional and considerate. If you decide to take calls when you are with other people, excuse yourself and leave the room but remember the people you are with may feel less important than your caller. Use message bank, silent mode or just switch it off until you are available again.

Hang up and lock up. We’ve all heard horror stories of mobile phones not properly hung up or keypads not locked and the last number called being accidentally dialed – the person inadvertently called is privy to your conversation without you being aware that they are on the line. Ensure your phone is hung up properly and use the keypad lock facility to avoid potential disasters.

Product Creation – 4 Steps to Get Started With Product Creation

This is a world of digital products. There was a time, not long ago, when you had to rent out video cassettes for watching movies and purchasing audio CDs for listening to your favorite music. You had to go to a classroom where a teacher would explain physics or math on the whiteboard. All these things are still there but a quiet revolution has been brewing in the online world. Now you download your favorite music or movies directly from the Internet and attend classes online.

The internet is also a big marketplace for digital products like digital books, digital music, digital videos and digital courses. In the market, everyone can be a seller and a buyer. If you have products, you can earn a lot of money through internet transactions. I will share with you some points on how to convert your digital products into cash.

1. Select a niche: In the online world, you cannot be all things to all people. You need to select a specific area where you would like to specialize. The internet users associate one person with one niche and it is worthwhile developing your reputation in something that is of interest to you. There is no need to worry since there is a market for every niche.

2. Educate yourself: Before you announce to the world that you have arrived, you need to polish your knowledge. Again the internet will help you do that. Read all that is there about your subject. But do not spend all your time doing just that since you have to get down to business. Not everything that you read will be relevant because some of it will be written by people who are not experts in your field. This in itself is an advantage since you can offer better information.

3. Gain confidence: The point is that before you declare to the world that you are an expert you need to be confident of your abilities. Gaining knowledge is the first step. Apart from the internet, you can refer to books and discuss with other experts in your field about your initiative. It is perfectly alright to find a mentor either in the online world or someone you know. Spend time at public discussion forums related to your subject to get an idea on what people’s concerns are.

4. Develop a product: Once you have gained confidence, you can turn to developing your own unique product and support system. All your learning from interactions with people will help you to develop the right product for your niche.

It is important to start after full preparation. If you start half-heartedly, then the chances of success reduce drastically.

Simple Ideas for Website Promotion, Using Some Standard Techniques

Just because you have a website for business doesn’t mean that your target audience and potential customers will find your website easily using a search engine. If you are new to the internet being used as a marketing tool or you would like to understand a little more about website promotion online, here we have a brief guide and a selection of simple ideas for promoting your website and ultimately your business within the online community.

You might have a modern, clean, fast loading website with good content, but if your target audience can’t find your website easily on major search engines like Yahoo and Google, you could be losing valuable potential customers and sales.

So if you plan to promote your website yourself, there are many low-cost ideas or free online tools and websites at your disposal. You will need to get some kind of active analysis for your website to see how many visitors visit your website and its pages. Sometimes there might be a basic service from your website hosting company, otherwise sign up to a service like Google webmaster tools (which is free), where you can see monthly visitor data for your website.

If you do not have an on-site blog for your website, it would be advisable to get one setup within your website directory as soon as possible. Because the search engines like Google, Yahoo and suchlike always prefer regularly updated content and so do the visitors to your website. New website content will also appeal to regular visitors when you add new page content or news updates about products and services relating to your business.

Adding your website to one of the many free or paid link directories will help, preferably if it is unique to your industry or a directory relating to an associated industry forum or association. Some specialist websites can offer these at a one-off or annual fee, but just check out the costing first and the duration of the link.

Reviews and testimonials are always good to gain extra credibility and offer a little extra reassurance to visitors or potential customers. You can also setup an account on Google Places (which is free), add you business to the Google maps page and invite some of your existing customers to write a review for you relating to your products or services.

Lastly social media and networking websites are good for getting new potential visitors to your websites, by joining websites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in. By setting up your social network account profile you will be raising the online awareness and presence of your website and ultimately your business. These are just a few simple ideas to promote and monitor traffic to your website, whilst gaining valuable visitors to your website.