Cellphone Etiquette for the Business Professional


Where the benefits and capabilities of cellphones continue to increase, business professionals’ dependence on them has never been greater. Extreme accessibility—among customers, employees and other key stakeholders—allowed by these little pocket-sized devices, has given birth to the virtual office and has further propelled the one-man-band entrepreneur and/or small business owner to a roaming one-man-orchestra. Emails, texts, and social media connectivity, in addition to phone calls, make cellphones that much more of a clearing-house for business functionality. And, in a fiercely competitive world, sometimes only separated by price and customer service, immediate responsiveness via mobile phones, has led to a tremendous positive impact on sales performance, at all levels. It really makes you think, “What did we do before mobile phones?”

This extreme access and subsequent, triggered responsiveness, however, if not properly managed, can have negative business consequences. “People are defining new rules and new behavior for what’s personal and what’s private,” says Robbie Blinkoff, principal anthropologist at Context-Based Research Group, a Baltimore marketer that relies on ethnographic fieldwork for insights into consumer behavior. What might seem right, necessary and acceptable to one business professional can be perceived as disrespectful, rude and a downright deal breaker to another. Therefore, understanding proper mobile phone etiquette is essential in managing your own business relationships. If exercised properly, it can also lead to greater efficiencies, sales and productivity output.

Cellphone Etiquette

Following are a few suggestions to get more out of your mobile technology while supporting your most important relationships:

  1. Never take a personal mobile call, check email, or text, during a business meeting with someone who expects your undivided attention. This is a tough one for most service professionals who attribute success to responsiveness and access. I get it. Taking calls as the owner, installer and/or head bottle washer has value to certain customers and key stakeholders. In the same token, it may make some professionals feel more productive and efficient for multi-tasking in this manner. However, constant distractions and interruptions send a clear message that your time is more important than that of the person or persons you are meeting with. This may result in that audience feeling low priority and/or unimportant. It may also suggest that you’re not a good listener (one of the key traits to successful sales) or fully present. Remember, the most successful business and other relationships happen in-person. What or who might not seem like a qualified, high-value customer interaction may in fact be a referral to one or many. Think of that each time you take a call, email or text during a business meeting and it may change your habits.  If your business requires immediate access and response, consider employing a shared call service that will take all (yes, all; even those calls and messages when you’re on vacation, sick or doing a job) incoming leads on your behalf, including qualifying/prioritizing them and keeping you informed of emergency business situations. Spending quality time during in-person meetings and having the capacity and efficiency to take on several additional jobs/projects throughout the day will be worth the added expense.
  2. Observe the 10-foot proximity rule. Keep a distance of at least 10-feet from the nearest person when talking on a cellphone. Lower your voice when taking calls in public. No one needs to know about your business or private life. Furthermore, be concise and to the point so distractions are kept to a minimum while you are mobile.
  3. Hang up and drive. As cellphone usage continues to increase so too are the fatalities resulting from distracted driving. Use hands free devices and technologies that allow you to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. A new sale or customer/key business stakeholder response is not worth yours or someone else’s life. ‘nuff said.

Cellphones are amazing devices and will only improve in power, speed and capabilities in the coming months and years. Some of my predictions for the future include:

  • The use of Facetime will transform how we communicate with each other adding video to audio.
  • Global meetings among many will be held in virtual situations on tiny devices with added capabilities to share and edit documents and presentations in real-time.
  • Mobile motion detection (like the Microsoft Kinnect) will further enhance individual mobile presentations, response and multitasking.
  • Augmented reality and mobile dashboards will provide more instant access to information and create greater efficiencies.

How mobile technology is managed and further optimized by you and for your own business will likely determine success and establish competitive advantage. Be wise and take into account proper cellphone etiquette for best results.

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.

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