Don't Leave Me a Message at the Beep: Practical? Or Obnoxious?


I recently attended a conference for women entrepreneurs and sat in on a session about generating media for your business.  Part of the advice given by the presenter was to make sure that you are accessible and practice responsible communication; meaning that you notify contacts when you will be out of the office, try your best to remain in contact, and always respond to voicemail.

Sigh. The V-word.

I hate voicemail.  I’m notorious for not checking my voicemail messages.  On my smartphone, I barely even notice the little cassette tape icon that lives on my screen letting me know that somebody thought I was important enough to call and to leave me a personal voice message.  It’s not that I’m mean, it’s that the thought of having to spend time dialing my mailbox and listening to long message after long message while having to find a pen and paper to jot down the phone numbers to call people back, frankly, is exhausting.  I’d so much prefer it if people sent me a text message, email, or Twitter or Facebook message.

And honestly, they would get a faster response.

I confess to being addicted to my email, and of course my cell phone, and chances are that I will see any electronic message within minutes of it being sent.  But a voicemail? It could literally take me days (if not weeks) to check.  The presenter at the conference offered this tip: if you don’t check your voicemail regularly (me! me!) then change your personal recording to ask people to contact you via another method, if their inquiry is urgent. I loved that!

As soon as I got to the airport after the conference, I recorded a new personal message right there in the boarding area for my flight.  I made sure it was polite and lighthearted but professional.  And it seems to be working! Within a day I got a Facebook message from someone telling me that they left me a voicemail but thought that I might receive the Facebook message faster. And I did.

Given that I am, technically, a digital immigrant, a part of me realizes that this new (freeing!) voicemail recording could come across as obnoxious to some old-school or traditional folks.  Is it time for them to join the “insta-” revolution? Or do I need to hunker down and make friends with my voicemailbox?

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