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  • Diana Schneidman

Freelancing and consulting: Farewell to voicemail? Hello texting? Plus a texting script.

There has been distressing news from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters: Office voicemail has been closed down.

If a call would normally go into voicemail, callers receive a standard message to try phoning again later or to use “an alternative method” to reach the individual.

The announcement from Bloomberg News says it takes an employee 25 minutes to go through 15 to 25 emails a day. Employees have the option to retain voicemail on the grounds of “business critical need,” but only 6% chose to do so.

My first reaction was shock. Some of those messages—such as my calls offering freelance writing assistance—are valuable. I’m selective about whom I call and I leave useful messages.

On second glance . . .

However, as I reread the article more thoroughly, I realized that the only voicemail being turned off is on the office landline. Workers may choose to have landline calls forwarded to their mobile phones and activate these mailboxes.

Of course, there are other ways to contact them as well: email, postal mail (perhaps with a lumpy enclosure), and texting come to mind first, followed by in-person networking, LinkedIn emails, and social media (including Twitter and Facebook).

As the article points out and my own experience confirms, it’s an age thing. Older people check voicemail frequently and respond; younger people—let’s say 35 or under—seldom review it and may not even have mailboxes set up. Actually, the younger generation often does not answer a call even when the phone is in hand.

What to do as a freelancer or consultant?

I have long used phone calls to market my services, but I am considering changes in how I reach out to possible clients.

Here’s what I am doing at this time:

  • Supplement the voicemail message I leave with a concurrent email.

  • When I have both an office phone and a mobile phone number for a contact, I use the latter.

  • For my own email signatures, business cards, and such, I specify which phone number I prefer, labeling my main number as “preferred” and the mobile as “in transit.”

  • I am considering texting to approach cell phone prospects. The 140-character limit is so restrictive, but I’d perhaps say: Marketing copywriting—persuasive, polished, deadline obsessed. Can I help you? or respond here. I sent email too. Thx.

I’m also training myself to check incoming texts with greater regularity.

By the way, I mentioned above that Twitter is another way to contact prospects. However, I never use the direct message feature of Twitter. I tried an automatic direct message to new connections years ago and soon realized that the DMs I was receiving were very commercial and a total waste of time. Since I never read them, I never send them as well.

Originally posted 12-29-14

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