Telephones: Make the Right Connection

With all the fuss about computers and the Internet, it could be easy to overlook your decidedly less high-tech, but still invaluable business tool--the phone.

September 1, 1999

Do you view your telephone as a squawk box or a gold mine?

As a salesperson, it's your lifeline. Make the time you spend on the phone most productive by investigating the type of phone features and services you use.

Features to Look For in a Telephone

  • A hold button and a mute button are more effective and more professional than covering the receiver and hoping the person on the other end can't hear you—or your home life.
  • Automatic redial saves time dialing busy numbers.
  • Number storage recalls those you dial frequently.
  • A speakerphone allows you to dial without holding the receiver. While you're waiting for an answer, you can keep working.
  • A cordless phone gives you the freedom to walk around your office or even outside.

Your Telephone as Headgear

Headsets, which aren't cumbersome--they look like headbands--are an effective way to minimize background noise or keep your hands free while you make and take calls.

Cordless headsets not only keep your hands free, but give you the freedom to walk around your office or house.

Some headsets allow you to replace your phone with a phone-keyboard combo that plugs into your computer keyboard port so you can make calls from your PC.

Phone Services

Services available from the phone company vary depending on where you live. Of the many features available, here are a few:

  • Call waiting. If you're on the phone and you receive an incoming call, a beep alerts you to a another caller.
  • Caller ID. With caller identification, screen your calls while you're working on important projects, know who called while you were out, and avoid telemarketers.
  • Call forwarding. This feature allows you to forward all of the calls that come to your phone number to another number including your personal line or wireless phone.
  • Distinctive ringing. This feature assigns various numbers (all on one line) special ringing patterns. For example, assign your fax number a special ring and only answer the phone after a standard ring.
  • Voice mail. If you're on the phone and receive an incoming call, the line will automatically switch to your voice mail.

So give your phone a little of the attention you may have lavished on your computer. How you use it can mean the difference between getting by or getting ahead.

Lisa Kanarek is a home office organizing expert based in Dallas, and the author of several books

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