Cultivate Your Phone Skills

There is a misconception floating around about those who work from home. It’s a vicious rumor that says those who work from home do so because they can’t get a “real” job. It says they aren’t professional enough to hang with the big boys, and after all, who can possibly be professional while they are working in their pajamas?

Much of that misconception comes from phone contact. Hard to believe? Consider this: most work at home business is conducted over the internet connection or phone line. It’s easy to be professional when you are responding to an email – after all, you have time to think about what you are going to say, and nobody on the other end of the modem is going to notice that you had two kids screaming in the background while you were writing!

But when we pick up the phone in our home office, sometimes we forget to say the name of our company, and instead just say “Hello?” Sometimes the sounds of the children can’t be denied, and occasionally we might have to excuse ourselves to handle some minor meltdown. It’s the life of a work at home mother, and sometimes, the little flare-ups are going to happen.

The key to handling these incidents is to keep your cool. Don’t panic, and don’t rush to handle something when you simply cannot. It’s always better to call back when it’s quiet than to deal with a crisis when it’s not.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

Invest in caller ID and always identify yourself as your business when you don’t recognize the number. Assume every call is a business contact until you know otherwise. Those who know you will understand when you answer with your business name – those who don’t know you will expect it.

Pay attention. No matter what else is going on in the room, pay attention to what the caller is saying. Walk out of the room if you have to, and take your pen and paper with you. If you must be in the same room with the children, offer only a brief apology if they act up, and then continue with your conversation. If you have to step away from the phone, take contact information and call back as soon as you possibly can. Within a few minutes is always the best outcome.

Smile before you answer the phone. The old adage about hearing a “smile in your voice” is true. If you smile when you speak, your voice naturally sounds more pleasant. So make sure you smile before you pick up the phone, and regardless of how you are really feeling, your caller will believe you are happy as punch that they called!

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