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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #57: June, 2008

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC

On how to be responsive and prompt:

  1. Don't allow email to pile up in your in box. Answer it immediately, file it for later action in an appropriate folder, or delete it. This way, people who deserve prompt responses will get them.
  2. Don't leave your cell phone on. You're much more efficient to use it to return calls that come into your voice mail box, so long as you do it regularly. Unless you're expecting an urgent call, you don't want to be interrupted at others' discretion.
  3. You'll be more efficient returning messages at set times than all the time. Don't let incoming email or voice mail take priority. Plan to access messages and call back as your schedule permits, but don't interrupt your work to take incoming calls or mail.
  4. Be clear about your priorities. Your insurance agent can wait, but your spouse can't, not can your largest client or major prospect.
  5. Use technology that helps you set priorities. For example, an IPhone allows you to scroll through messages rather than having to listen to them sequentially.
  6. Try to get cumbersome or intensive work done prior to 9 am when you're fresh and no one expects you to be taking messages.
  7. Educate your clients and relevant others (e.g., subcontractors) as to how you work. My clients are happy to expect a call back within 90 minutes during business hours, so long as they have that standard in mind.
  8. Don't follow links and other trails. Some people will send you links or sites to support their position or just as "interest." They seldom add anything of value and can waste a good part of your day. Ignore them.
  9. Ruthlessly ask people to take you off lists. It doesn't matter at all if they get upset. If they're really important to you, they won't be offended by a reasonable request.
  10. If you're unavoidably locked up in a session, on a long plane ride, out of the country, on vacation, etc., have someone call in for you and reply to every call with, "I'm sorry, but he (or she) is unreachable at the moment. I can make sure this message is delivered, however. Would a return call after the 15th be okay?" (You can have someone do this with email, but I like to keep on top of my own email, and it only requires 30 minutes or so twice a day. I'm happy to do that from the beach.)

When people aren't responsive, it's because they have too much communication and not enough priority.

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