This week’s networking tip may seem a bit remedial, but it is important. Too many people leave ineffective voice mail messages, resulting in poor communication and delayed or non-response.
With today’s voice technology systems and crazy, busy lives, you are more likely to get a voice mail answering machine than a real person when you call. So you must always be prepared to leave an effective voice mail message. Your message should help you achieve your goals.
So what are your goals with the voice mail message you are about to leave for someone?
- To get the person to call you back so you can speak live?
- To impart specific information that the other person is needing?
- To keep top of mind with them?
- To maintain an customer service standard by promptly returning phone calls made to you?
- To pass the hot potato or play the voice-mail-tag-you’re it game.
The key here is to think about WHY you are calling them and what you hope to achieve with this call. Think about it for at least 10-30 seconds BEFORE you make the call.
Effective voice mail messages are:
- Short and concise – no more than 20 seconds in length
- Clear and compelling – you give them a reason to call you back
- Recognizable – –you make it easy for them to call you back by making your voice, your name and your contact information obvious to the receiver
I practice the bookend method with every voice mail that I leave (even personal calls). It is simple to do – you give your name and telephone at the beginning and at the end of every voice mail message that you leave. Don’t assume that they’ll recognize your voice or that they’ve memorized your telephone number. The bookend method makes it easy for your caller to call you back!
It may feel awkward the first time you use the bookend method, but with practice you will get comfortable with it. You’ll like the results too. You will get more return phone calls, enabling you to do more business and make more connections with people who are important to you.
The bookend method goes something like this…
“Hello John. This is Kathy McAfee, the Marketing Motivator. My number is (860) 408-0033. The purpose of my call is to invite you as my guest to a high profile business networking event at the end of the month. Please call me back and I’ll fill you in on the details. (860) 408-0033. Again, this is Kathy McAfee.”
“Hello Linda, this is Kathy McAfee. (860) 408-0033. The final headcount of confirmed guests for our upcoming Soroptimist meeting is fifteen. Call me this afternoon if you need more detail. (860) 408-0033. Again, this is Kathy McAfee.”
“Hello Mom. This is me, your favorite daughter, Kathy. (860) 408-0033. I wanted to thank you for that very large check you sent me. Keep ’em coming! If you want to chat, call me anytime at (860) 408-0033. This is Kathy.”
Prepare a Script
Nervous what to say when that voice mail machine comes on? Follow the advice of Dean Rieck (http://www.procopytips.com/voice-mail photo credit: ProCopyTips):
“You should write your script before you call. And you should remember to speak slowly and clearly. No ers, ums, or uhs. A script can put you at ease and make you sound professional and reasonably intelligent.
- Say “Hello” and use the person’s name. Be sure to pronounce it correctly.
- Say your first and last name. If you have a difficult name, spell it slowly.
- Say your complete phone number, including area code. Again, speak slowly. The person you’re calling may be taking notes.
- Say why you’re calling. Keep it short with two main points, maximum.
- Say whether you’ll call again or you expect a call back. Give a time you’ll call or say when you will be available.
- Say your complete phone number again, slowly.*
- Stop talking. Hang up.”
*The only addition I would make to Dean’s suggested script format is to repeat your name at the end. They may have forgotten your name or the quality of the connection may have been poor and they didn’t hear it clearly at the beginning. You want them to remember your name. This is important!
Your networking GOAL for this week:
Before you dial out to make ANY photo call, take 10-30 seconds to think about your call objective (that’s the time it takes to enjoy a few deep belly breaths). Stop your fingers and let your brain engage. If you need to, jot down a short script of what you plan to say. Otherwise employ the bookend method, leaving your name and telephone number at the beginning and the end of every voice mail message that you leave (business and personal). Notice how many incomplete and ineffective voice mail messages you receive. How often do you have to scramble to find people contact information or are mystified as to who is calling you. Celebrate the fact that you are not one of those people. You are mastering the art of effective (voice mail) communication.
p.s. if you plan on calling me , I expect you to use the bookend method. Go ahead – practice on me! (860) 408-0033 – this is Kathy McAfee, America’s Marketing Motivator!