Let's talk about communications.
Whether you want to get a new job or sell something or land a contract, someone needs to reach you.
The best way is in person.
Next is with voice.
Then snail mail.
Someone in Dubai, Mumbai or Shanghai is not likely to stop by to discuss line fourteen on a contract, so I can expect instead a phone call.
There are three ways for this to happen.
Landline, cellular or Internet.
You have landline covered. So did your parents and their parents.
Cellular is simple.
Cellular phones can be obtained at retail outlets or online.
Advice on cellular phones.
1) Get one that works more places or at least where you see yourself going. I prefer GSM technology because it works natively in more places around the globe. But you may prefer CDMA so go with what you know.
My personal advice is go with a carrier who provides non-roaming service in the places you most likely will be.
2) Get an "all in one device" like a Blackberry or a Treo. That way you can take voice calls but stay on top of your email as well. It helps to have business friendly features like a calendar, alarm, organizer and text message friendly keyboard.
3) Have a spare phone! A back up in case your battery dies or you have left the charger at the office. Make sure the phone number is available to your contacts. GSM is neat because you can take the SIM card from your old phone and place it in your backup phone (as long as it is unlocked) and therefore have your number and contacts at hand and working.
Nice, inexpensive phones
Take a look at PhoneScoop for other phones and plans.
Do you Skype? You should. The service (Internet only) is free and it takes a few minutes to sign up. I use Skype to speak with others across the globe and nearly every connected contact I have has a working Skype ID.
For an additional fee, Skype users can use their account to make and receive calls from non-Skype users.
In addition, consider Google Talk. If you have a Google GMail account, you can set up a Google Talk account and instant message or place voice calls to your contacts.
And now, our list of the day!
1) Make sure your phone number is available to anyone who you would want to call you.
2) Have your number on printed business cards and on your resume.
3) Naturally, pay your cellular and/or landline bill regularly! An out of service message does not inspire confidence.
4) Putting your phone number on a website is still not a good idea. Unless it is a business number on which you do not mind getting calls.
5) Avoiding the telephone lets callers know they are not important. You are not cool if you do not take calls.
6) Screening your call is acceptable from time to time, but please return calls promptly.
7) There is no rule which says you have to take calls outside of normal business hours (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM US). Some recommend taking calls one hour earlier and fifteen minutes after these times, but I leave that up to you, your profession and personal discretion.
8) When leaving a phone message, identify yourself, speak clearly and give your phone number, mention briefly why you are calling, leave your name and phone number once more and hang up.
Brevity is key. Nobody likes a five minute long voice mail. Don't leave them.
9) Use your native colloquial when speaking numbers. Leave "zed" to the native speakers, please. (Same goes for writing, but that is another entry).
10) Test your phone number, especially when it is new.
Until we talk again, speak clearly and speak often.
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