Not all the NewMediaRules address mass media. In fact, new rules of economy, good judgment, simple courtesy or plain coolness have evolved regarding the way you use your phone.
Here six of them:
1. Lose the dedicated fax line unless you’re in a business where faxing signatures is a daily requirement. Otherwise, there’s absolutely no reason to tie up a $60-a-month business line for a dedicated fax. If you can’t go cold turkey, at least switch to one of the online fax services, which you can get for about $10 a month. But don’t tell anybody you have a fax number, or you’ll be branded as hopelessly out of touch.
2. At least consider dropping your toll-free number. Why? Because nobody pays toll any more. Practically everybody you’re likely to hear from has unlimited long-distance calling. In fact, about the only toll being paid is that for toll-free numbers. Because you typically pay for each call that comes in over the line, you’re incurring a cost that doesn’t provide any benefit. So why do I say “consider”? Simply because you may have spent so much time and money getting and communicating a toll-free number that it would hurt your business to change it.
3. Never, never, never allow anyone in your office to say “so-and-so is on long distance.” That meant something 30 years ago when you were paying a quarter a minute to talk long distance. Now, it just means you’re clueless.
4. Don’t come off like a stalker by calling somebody’s cell number six times in a row. If the person didn’t answer, he or she still knows you called. (Corollary: Don’t call one number, then hang up and call the other. This is incredibly annoying to the person who’s already on a conversation and has to listen to you attempting to horn in twice in five minutes.)
5. Poll your associates about their preferences for voice mail. Younger folks, as you would expect, prefer that you send a text or email with a message, rather than forcing them to call and listen to your muffled message while they’re riding the noisy tram at an airport. On the other hand, an older associate might not have a phone package that includes texting, so you’d be costing that person money by sending a text. (If he or she has a smart phone, on the other hand, an email will work just as well without incurring an SMS charge.)
6. Make yourself easy to reach by giving people one number to reach you. Either keep your desk phone forwarded to your cell when you’re away, or use a service that allows calls to ring your desk and cell at the same time.