11. Who are you? When returning a call, you will be perceived as so professional if you say, "Hello, this is (your name) returning (so-and-so's) call. The more you tell "them" your name up front, the barriers go down, the gatekeepers of the industry swing open the doors and you waltz in. And if asked your name, answer with your FIRST NAME AND LAST NAME. Ashley? Ashley who? We work with 15 Ashleys. If we have to pull information out of you, it's not going to get any easier.
12. Similarly, to reprise an incident that occurred in our office only yesterday, don't call a company and say, "Do you know who this is?" Our blood pressure starts to rise. Our answer: "Noooooo." Then we hear, "I was in two years ago!" On the way to a coronary. Then we ask, "Who are you?" Answer: "BRIAN!"
13. Say "good-bye" when hanging up. Again, there must be a reason for saying this. Unfortunately as you may be guessing, actors as a group have less than admirable telephone manners. A disproportionately large number of talent just hang up when finished with a telephone conversation – don’t slam down the receiver in the ear of someone who can help/hurt you. 100% of the business professionals in this industry view this hanging up as rude and unprofessional and makes people not want to work with them.
14. Make conversations brief and to the point. Be focused. Before you call, know what you want to say. These are business calls. The person you're talking to usually is juggling many different phone lines. They can speak to hundreds of actors a day. They don't have the time for life histories. Get on, say it, say goodbye and hang up.
15. If returning a call, don't start off a conversation with "Hi, somebody called me about something. I think it was yesterday. I don't really know, my phone's been acting up." This is much better: "Good afternoon, this is [your first name/last name] returning [first name/last name's] call 5 minutes ago about [subject]. Professional, with just a little more effort makes a big difference.
16. Call during business hours. Usually considered 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Calling and leaving a message at 3:00 am is not well received and reflects poorly on the actor. Also remember, you have to have a conversation, requiring interaction. You cannot do that at 3:00 am.
17. Choose your times wisely. If you are calling an agent on your own for whatever reason, and not specifically returning their call, never call first thing on a Monday morning or last thing on a Friday afternoon. That's when they are the least receptive to anything. They can be crabby. So don't play into a bad time. Also keep in mind that in offices, mornings are used going over breakdowns and sending out calls; late afternoons are devoted to giving out auditions. Think about that when making the call.
18. Speak distinctly! You're an actor, no marbles in your mouth. If we can't understand you over the phone, we have learned the hard way there's no reason to go further with you.
19. Let people want to like you. A rule of life is you cannot make someone like you, you can only let them want to like you.
Remember, how you handle yourself over the phone speaks volumes about you and your future in this business. Having this skill is as necessary - and mandatory - as any other performing skill.
And never lose sight of the show business mantra: Your job is to make their job easier. And how you choose to apply that mantra will be reflected in the success of your career.