I was meeting with a group of clients today, and then it happened. My cell phone went off. My cell phone going off isn't that unusual, but in a meeting, it's terribly unusual for me. I try to always flick it to vibrate before I enter a meeting if I carry it at all. I don't want the discussion to be sidetracked by a ringing cell phone. Today, I forgot.
There are certain things I think every business professional should do when relating to his/her cell phone. They are definitely important tools in our arsenal of business weapons, but they are also annoyances for others when we're in the midst of an important conversation or negotiation. Let me give you a few things I would love to see happen in the business world of cellphones:
- Silence your cell phone before you enter a meeting. That was a no brain-er. If you're expecting an important call relating to the meeting, make your counterpart aware right away so that when it comes it will be accepted as expected.
- Move away from the group when you take that call, and complete the call out of hearing range of the participants.
- Make is as short as humanly possible.
- If you're not expecting a "meeting related" call, leave your cell phone in your car. If your family isn't in some sort of crisis, a few minutes probably won't hurt anything. What did we do in the 80s?
- Get rid of the Hendrix "Wild Thing" ring-tone. I note that one because I love Hendrix, and if I was going to be wild and crazy with my phone that would probably be my ring-tone. It's hard to take you seriously with some pop tart blaring on your phone when it goes off in a business meeting.
- At the risk of sounding like a heartless child hating maggot, don't have your three year old make your phone answering message. I'm sure your little ones are amazing, mine were, but an incoherent child blabbering on a business call is not only annoying, it's aggravating while you wait through the two minute chatter-bomb to explain that you need another signature on a legal document, pronto!
- Avoid the three year old answering message by answering your phone when possible. I can't tell you how much business I get each year from clients who couldn't get the listing agent on the phone. I love it, but kills the bottom line for others.
- Don't text during a business breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks or anytime you're in a business dialog. It's just rude. If you have something that needs to be taken care of, excuse yourself and go take care of it. There is little more obnoxious than watching someone who is supposed to be listening to you texting while you're speaking. It's obvious that they're not interested.
- Get crazy and leave it home for a night out. Wow! Now that's an "out there" idea! If you're like me, my wife has one anyway.
My own cell phone faux pas reminded me of my love/hate relationship with the cell phone. I can't imagine doing business without one, but I actually do remember when I did, and I did OK.