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Make yourself accessible.

What's more annoying than having to leave a message for some you urgently need to contact

Probably having that message go unanswered. Or how about taking at executive up on her invite to call, only to find out she's about as accessible as Fort Knox? Barriers like these are not only frustrating, but commonplace in professional exchanges. But they can also kill important relationships if they become chronic. Don't underestimate the necessity of being reachable.

We're all busy. Meetings, deadlines and correspondence leave many of barely enough time to breathe, alone to interact with contacts clients. But making time to avail y to others is something only you can

"Your time is your own, so take charge and determine your own priorities," say,, Mandell, president of the Mulholland Group, a P.R. and marketing firm in Los Angeles. Making yourself accessible should be one of those priorities, suggests Mandell, the author of Power Shmoozing: The New Etiquette for Social Business Success (First House Press, Los Angeles, $11.95).

If your goal is to attract business or build working relationships, not returning messages or hibernating behind closed doors won't win you many takers. But, for those times when you're unavailable, you can employ some reliable substitutes to pinch-hit for you.

A capable assistant is one. By all means, utilize him to run interference for you when you're busy. Trained correctly, he can answer callers' queries, schedule your appointments, elicit detailed messages or prioritize urgent calls requiring your immediate attention, says management consultant Alec Mackenzie. This can significantly shorten that daunting pile of message slips.

No assistant? Your answering machine, voice mail, E-mail or beeper can serve as surrogates. But not if You don't retrieve and respond to your messages regularly. If callers know you routinely check in, they'll be more apt to settle for communicating with you this way.

By setting aside a specific time of day to return calls and address correspondence, you can keep them from snowballing. "Many people like to do this right after lunch and again toward the end of the day," since that's when they're at their desks, says Mackenzie.

If you're on the sending - rather than receiving - end of the connecting game, there's a lot you can do to make sure you reach your intended party. Leave detailed messages that explain the purpose of your call, even if the person might already know. Keep your business cards updated to reflect current information. Make good on those invites to "do lunch," dinner or tea. We're all busy enough. Making it hard for someone to get in touch with shouldn't be added to the pile.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:importance of returning calls and responding to messages
Author:Baskerville, Dawn M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Mar 1, 1994
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