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Use voice-mail to make an impression

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Generally, you have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. With voice-mail, though, you have even less time. That’s why it’s so important to record an impressive voice-mail greeting.

Follow these four C’s:
Customize your greeting daily. An up-to-date greeting makes a strong impression, particularly when people need to track you down quickly. Make it a morning habit, before you pour your first cup of coffee.
Example: “Today is Tuesday, November 21st, and I’m ...”

Convey more than the obvious. Callers can figure out that you’ve “stepped away” from your desk; you don’t need to tell them. Offer them more helpful information, instead, such as what time you’ll be back or what to do right now, in lieu of calling back.
Example: “I’ll be in the office all day, although I’ll be unreachable between 1 and 2 o’clock. If you’re calling at that time and need help immediately, please hit ‘0’ and ask the operator for Amanda Smith.”

Collect as many details as possible. It doesn’t help you when callers leave a message saying, “I have some important info; call me back ASAP.” Urge callers to be specific.
Example: “If you’d like to leave a message, please include as many details as possible, so I can provide you with what you need more quickly.”

Critique your outgoing message. When you’re finished, take a minute to listen to what you’ve just recorded: Do you sound enthusiastic or bored? Do you include all the information that you need to and in the most effective order possible? That sort of attention to detail pays off ... in under 30 seconds.

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