Are You Leaving Voicemails the Right Way?

July 25th, 2017

Ever wondered why it seems to take everyone so long to return your call? I sure have. And then after quick reflection, I realized that maybe I just wasn’t doing a good job of leaving voicemails. Since then, I’ve certainly mended my ways, and the good news is that leaving an effective voicemail is quite easily done! With some basic tools and ideas, you’ll be well on your way to being an expert on voicemail etiquette.

Let’s start from the beginning…with your name!
It’s surprising how often this detail is left out of voicemails. Or if not left out, sometimes it’s said so quickly that the listener really can’t quite decipher it. First and foremost, be sure to mention your name, and it won’t hurt to even mention it twice. Also, for those of us who have a name that is unusual or is difficult to spell, adding the spelling to your message will likely be rather helpful as well.

Ensure you get a call-back
Naturally enough, the phone number is an essential part of nearly any voicemail message. Just like with your name, it’s not a bad idea to say the phone number twice. Doing so could save the listener from having to back the message up again to get the entire number. When giving the digits, speak clearly with consistent pacing.

The ramblers
At one time or another, I’m sure we have all been at the receiving end of a message that rambles on to infinity, and I’m guessing we’ve all been guilty of leaving one on occasion! It’s an easy trap to fall into. For voicemails, less is more. Maybe you have five questions about the proposal you just received. Instead of listing said questions, the following would typically suffice: “Hi, this is ______. I just received the proposal you sent and have a few questions that need clarification before we can make a decision. Please call me at ______. Again, this is _____ calling about the proposal. You can reach me at ______.” The recipient immediately knows why you’re calling and has the pertinent information for the call-back.

Many people I’ve worked with over the years have opted for email over a phone call for the purpose of having a paper trail. However, this is actually changing, at least with regard to voicemails. Thanks to technological developments, many systems now allow one to save voicemails as they would any other computer file. Voicemails that in the past could only be played from the user’s phone (and had to be deleted to save space on the voicemail system) can now be saved, archived, and/or shared. With that in mind, it’s probably easy to understand why less is more when it comes to how much detail one puts into a voicemail.

Last but certainly not least, tone matters. Mopey, grumpy, or confrontational messages are not only a bit unpleasant, but they also aren’t likely to receive an enthusiastic or timely response. Move to the top of someone’s to-do list by showing that speaking with you will be a positive experience, even if the topic of the conversation is a difficult one.

Flexibility AND Productivity…What?!

July 18th, 2017

“For a flexible person, it is impossible not to reach his destination, because by using his ability to be flexible, he can easily define a nearer new destination!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

There’s a lot of emphasis on productivity in recent blogs and Pinterest postings. We are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient at home and at work with the end goal of accomplishing more in less time. There are great tips such as getting up 20 minutes earlier, reducing distractions by shutting off alerts on your phone, and creating priority lists daily, weekly etc… These are all effective ways to get more done.
Sometimes to get our priorities accomplished, we can become rigid and very focused on the task at hand. Our world narrows to a list of tasks and checklists. Distractions and deviations from this list causes much anxiety and a feeling of not being productive. Other people’s needs and priorities become an annoyance.

However, consider a few ideas of how being more flexible can actually boost our productivity and increase our effectiveness. Yes – you can actually be more productive by being flexible!

There will always be distractions, emergencies, or unexpected events in our work day. How we welcome and respond to these is key to keeping ourselves truly productive.

  1. When something unplanned or unexpected comes along, we are forced out of our groove. We have to shift our focus. This is a great opportunity to reassess our priorities. What “to do” items are really important, not to ourselves, but to our company as a whole? Taking these “interruptions” as an opportunity to ensure our goals are aligned with that of our business, can lead us closer to being more productive in the big picture.
  2. By being able to shift gears and ebb and flow with the tide, we are given a chance to continually reprioritize. We can ask ourselves “Is this truly productive?” “What does it really mean to be productive?” We can keep busy all day, or we can find ways to ensure we are contributing to the goals of the company at large. That might mean dealing with an employee issue to prevent problems and ensure a motivated workforce. It might mean letting administrative tasks pile up while we focus on a client and their needs. Thinking about long term results is ultimately more productive.
  3. Being flexible can also teach us to be proactive instead of reactive. Knowing that unexpected issues (good or bad) can occur, we can build flexibility into our plan for the day. Having a backup plan on when we will get something done can help us change gears without the anxiety of leaving our process. Knowing which tasks can wait will help us respond to bigger priorities as they come along.
  4. Sometimes the day gets away from us, and all the “productivity” we had planned goes out the window. This can help us reassess our limits and expectations. Perhaps we are trying to get too much done. Maybe we need to delegate more.

Being flexible does not mean being distracted. Being flexible means we continually redefine priorities and goals. Doing this keeps us in line with the more important aspects of our business and ultimately makes us more productive. What we do produce will then have the greatest impact.

Erin Counter, Director of Operations

LinkedIn as Easy as 1-2-3

July 6th, 2017

Ready to start planting seeds for your future? As someone who works on the recruiter end of LinkedIn, I can assure you that this can be an excellent tool for your career search. With a few simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to having a LinkedIn profile that delivers long-term results.

Complete your profile
Naturally, this would be the first step, and you very likely have already started (and possibly completed) this step. One of the most important items is the professional headline section. LinkedIn automatically fills this in with your current or most recent title, but this field is actually designed to be more than a job title. This is where you can create a dynamic description of what you do, writing a tagline that summarizes who you are and what your expertise is. This is a great place to incorporate any keywords applicable to your experience since keywords are very searchable on LinkedIn. Just make sure not to go overboard with a whole string; this should be an impactful statement that incorporates a few applicable keywords.

Connect to the right people
Connect with individuals in a way that makes sense and has purpose (as opposed to building your network through random clicks of the mouse). You’ll want to connect with current and former employers and coworkers. From there, your network will keep growing. And in connecting with these individuals, you’re setting yourself up very nicely for when you have to ask for references. You’re already in contact through LinkedIn, so it won’t be terribly difficult to ask these contacts for assistance when needed.

Share valuable content
Now that you’ve built your network, make sure they see your name on a regular basis. The best way to do this is simply to share relevant articles, industry news, job-search tips, etc. Really, it’s just a matter of sharing something your connections will likely find helpful, and the posts will keep your name fresh in their mind. As you get more acclimated to the LinkedIn functions, you’ll notice there are alerts to tell you when someone has a work anniversary, starts a new job, or has a birthday. Sending a quick congrats is another effective way to stay in contact with key people.

While these steps seem simplistic, that’s really all there is to it! While your LinkedIn profile won’t magically create and maintain itself, it takes a minimal time investment to grow and develop this resource, and it has the potential to deliver huge results for you.