1. Calling a number listed on your caller ID. In business, you should never just automatically call a number just because it came up on your caller ID, even if you know the number listed. Since you weren’t able to answer your business line (cell phones included) doesn’t mean you should just call right back. Always listen to the message first or if they didn’t leave a message, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to call back either. In business, communicate accordingly and respect the communication process.
2. Calling someone back before listening to your voice mails. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left detailed short messages and the person calls me back and says, "Hey, Sherese. I see you called." And I say, "Yes, I did. What do you think?" And of course they say, "Oh, I just saw that you called. Did you leave a message?" I know that sometimes this is warranted but it’s a waste of time to have voice mail if you’re not going to use it. Be cautious of doing this. Make sure to listen to your voice mails on a regular basis, take down the information and then proceed to make your call back calls. This system is much more professional.
3. Answering your cell phone if you’re in a meeting or at an event. I recently met someone for breakfast and we were discussing an upcoming project. In the middle of the conversation she got a call and she answered it (it was not her kids)! This is a rude action so just don’t do it. I understand about children and making sure you’re available, but if you look at the phone and you know it’s not your kids, don’t answer it. And if you have to leave your phone on, put it on vibrate and let the person know before your meeting starts that if it’s your kids, you have to take the call. That’s the professional thing to do.
If you’re in a meeting and someone calls you but you know you’re in a meeting, don’t answer the phone. Last week I had three people answer the phone and told me to call back because they were in a meeting. I thought, "Why did you answer the phone?!"
Also, if you’re at an event or a seminar or other group gathering, make it a habit to put your phone on vibrate and if you get a call, leave the room and then answer.
4. Giving out an email address you don’t use or check on a daily basis. This is pretty simple. If you give me an email address, but you don’t check that particular email very often, that tells me one of two things: 1. You don’t want to communicate with me — If so, don’t give me your email address — and/or 2. You’re not a professional.
If you give out an email address for business but you never check it, then why give it out????
5. Not calling the person if your email has not been answered in a timely manner. These days we rely too much on our email systems to get the messages to our recipients. I’m guilty of it too. If you’ve sent an email message and it is an important business matter, and you haven’t received a response, make sure to follow up with a phone call. Sometimes your email could go to a spam or junk folder and get deleted or the email may not have gotten delivered.
Don’t reprimand the recipient; it’s up to you to follow up no matter what communication vehicle you use.
6. Not reading your business emails/correspondence fully. If I send you an email with details, instruction, or answers to specific questions I expect you to read the email fully just as you expect the same from me. I get emails all the time with half-answers or that have been half-read based on the response, so….we play email tag for a period of time which is a waste of time. Read your emails fully and start enforcing this on your end as well. I make it a habit to not regurgitate what I’ve already explained earlier. I always respond with, "please read the original email once more, it has all the details and I’ll await your response." Now, those I do business with respect me even more because it’s allowed them to do business the way they should do business.
7. Blocking calls if they don’t show you who they are on your business line. I recently acquired a new client and went to her office. She was getting several calls but had the call-block feature on her phone for those who don’t show her their information. I asked her why she chose to do that on her business line; she told me that since she had the phone set up like that at home she also had it on her business line. Basically, she had no good business reason to do this. I understand about privacy and being careful but when you’re in business you don’t want to block anyone from calling you. You never know who’s on the other end of the line. If you see a number you don’t recognize or it’s unavailable, just let it go to voice mail. This is better than blocking.
8. Using your home telephone number and your home address for business purposes. This is not only unprofessional but it’s also dangerous! If you’re going to be in business then you need a separate business phone number and a separate business address. Never ever use your personal information for business communication. The solution: get a second line put in to use as your business line and go to a mail box place such as the post office or the UPS store and get a business mailing address. No ifs ands or buts…
9. Leaving a message on all phone numbers you have or calling and leaving several voice mails on the same number. I know, I know, sometimes it’s just an emergency. Just don’t make this a habit for every call you make. I have several colleagues that have to leave the same message on every phone number I have and they also send an email. Technology can be very bad sometimes. Also, don’t call the same number three or four times with the same message that are only 5-10 minutes apart. –I’m laughing as I write this one…hee hee hee –It’s just funny when I hear a series of messages in five minute increments. It just makes me not want to call that person back! Anyway, one message on one phone number is sufficient. If you don’t hear a response in a timely manner (give them at least a few hours), then do follow up.
10. Not realizing that the tone and pitch of your voice affects how your message is perceived. I recently had a phone call from a woman who was selling business phone services. Her message was clear; she even said some things that made me want to try her product. What stopped me? Her voice! It was the same pitch and tone no matter what she said, and she never emphasized any words or changed her voice levels – just a steady monotone that drove me crazy. It sounded like she was speaking out of her nostrils. To understand what I heard, imagine you’re sitting at a piano and there’s only one key that works and you hit that key for a straight five minutes without stopping. After 30 seconds you’re pulling your hair out at the annoying sound.
Check your voice by recording yourself and critiquing the sound. Do you sound boring? Do you sound timid? Try practicing on a friend who will tell you the truth before getting on the phone to sell or for any business conversations. You’ll be happy you did!
Bottom line: If you’re in business, you have to communicate effectively and appropriately.
I have tons more to share but I think you get the picture. It’s so easy to fall prey to these 10 communication mistakes. Believe me, I still do at times. Just be aware and begin to set standards for the way you communicate when it comes to business.
Sherese Duncan is the "Entrepreneur’s Strategic Partner" and host of one of the fastest growing Internet radio shows: Real Women. Real Business. Real Solutions. Get your free Breaking Barriers to Business Profitability Strategies at: www.efficio.biz.
© 2007 Effició, Inc. Sherese Duncan