There are lots of day-to-day ways to present yourself as a professional. Such details are key in presenting yourself and your business in ways that exude confidence, warmth, and the highest quality standards. In this article, I would like to focus on some very specific areas. Namely, your email address, your email signature, and your mobile phone and voicemail message. It is something of crucial importance, and it helps maintain personal and professional boundaries that can be blurred if care is not taken.
So much of our communication these days is by email. Obviously the content of your emails is important, but so is your email address. What is yours? It should be professional not personal. Personal email addresses should be kept for friends and family only. I have seen some really shocking email addresses, too rude to even mention in this blog, okay then, things like firstname.lastname@example.org Not what one might look for in a childminder. So, does yours hint at your sense of humour? Your other passions in life? Your nickname? Or your personality? If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, I say it is probably time to change it.
And each email is also a terrific opportunity to provide the basic information people need from you, and some marketing messages too. I am staggered by how few people put even their phone number(s) and address on their email signature. So many people nowadays look at emails (on their phone) for that very information, so make it easy for them. Also include your business name, a logo, website address, and a message about what you are up to (the latest thing or celebration, or special offer or event). Change it every few weeks for maximum effect, and point of difference.
If you have a mobile ‘phone for work and personal use, be careful. With greater demands for flexible working and the 24-hour work culture, it could be very advantageous for you to take calls in the evenings and weekends. However, there may be pitfalls and disadvantages. First impressions count when it comes to how you answer your ‘phone. There shouldn’t be a problem if you always answer your ‘phone in a professional manner. If you don’t, then that is a cause for concern. And background noise is a key consideration too – what sort of impression will you give by taking a call in the toilet or a bar?
So, for those occasions you can’t take a call, let your voicemail do the work. Your message should include your business name, a little hint of your culture and aims, and a link to your website. Here is an example: “Thank you for calling (name), we are not available now, so please leave a message with your name, number. We will get back to you as soon as we can, or visit our website at (insert web address). Many thanks.”
These little details go a long way to not only give people the information they need, and offer you valuable opportunities to promote what is best about your business. Do them and you can promote your professional approach and how people can work with you in the future, because first impressions definitely count.