The Best Ways to Make Client Calls and Online Meetings with Kids in the House
Soon, school will be out for the summer, and kids will be around. All. Day.
For those of use who homeschool, this is nothing new, but for work-at-home moms who don't already have a plan in place for dealing with distractions, trying to keep a professional atmosphere when speaking to clients can be a difficult learning curve.
So, what's a professional to do when you need to do some face-time with a client -- over the phone or video? Use these tips for giving your best:
1. Protect your equipment. First, you should never have your mobile devices, laptops, or video/audio-enabled equipment anywhere near where kids can get them. If you do, use password protection to disable recording and transmitting technologies unless you are using them. You do not want clients to be "accidentally" Skyped with video while you are in your PJ's, anymore than you would want your baby to dial the last client number while you're yelling at your son to put pants on. (Yes, that has happened.)
2. Have a safe room. My office is in the middle of the house, at the end of the family room. I usually have NO Privacy. When it comes to client calls, however, I'll take my phone or laptop and hide anywhere I need to for quietness and professionalism. I'll hang a sheet behind me. I'll disable video, if I have to (we all have tech issues from time to time.) I'll squish into a closet if someone is freaking out in the other room. Make your safe room work, and use it only for these moments. If you use it too often, people will catch on and come looking for you. They'll also lose respect for the "sacred" nature of you hiding there.
3. Schedule calls for ONE day a week. Do you know how hard it is to jump from teaching school or serving lunch to pitching services to a potential client? It's hard on you and harder on kids -- who don't understand why the same mom who was blowing raspberries on little tummies is now all serious and demanding quiet. Get all the "business" calls done in one day, and set the tone that business is business. Hire a sitter or enlist help from a spouse or older sibling. It makes it so much easier to segregate this part of your life when it is just one time a week and in a big chunk.
4. Leave. Do you know what's better than a safe room? Going away. I'm serious. Find a time when you can ditch the family with a sitter and go somewhere -- anywhere -- for client calls. Head to the parking lot outside Walmart or anywhere with good cell coverage. Just go.
5. Embrace naps and quiet time. If you don't have a set-in-stone time for meeting, take advantage of those quiet minutes when the baby has just been put down for a nap to make your cold calls or followup with that PR rep. Have a list of calls that can be made at ANY time and work through them within the first 15 minutes to a half hour of these moments. Avoid starting a call during the end of a nap period, however, as baby could wake up mid-call. And we know how badly they can cry and carry-on if they are not a "waker". Do yourself a favor and make the first part of this quiet time work the hardest.
What are your tricks to getting calls and meetings done with kids around?