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2008-05-02 13:30:00

Virtual Phone Numbers, Coolness & 3 Digressions from the Topic

If there was such a thing as a “coolness factor,” my friend Chance Hoggan would be a 10. I think he’s Scottish. I do know he likes to be-bop around Spain. For all I know, he might be communicating with me at any time from Africa or Hong Kong.

I’ve never met him in person, and only once talked with him via phone.  I don’t even know if he’s black, white, red, or something in between. He may be young or old, tall or short.  I don’t know and don’t care.

You see, Chance is also my SEO (“search engine optimizer,” for those who are techie challenged), and he communicates with his fingers, via Internet and Blackberry. And that works just perfectly for us both, because those are the tools of his craft that aid him in getting his job done in the most impressive, expeditious manner possible.  And, the fact that he has command of his tools makes him that much more impressive. In short, how Chance communicates speaks even louder than what he communicates.

So, when my cool friend Chance suggested I write about virtual phone numbers, I was up to the challenge.

Digression Number One

First, I should explain that a virtual phone number (VPN) is a telephone number without an associated phone line. Using find-me-follow-me technology, these numbers can be forwarded easily to any phone line, fixed or mobile – a boon for highly mobile individuals who seek the professional advantages of always-available, reliable, crystal-clear communication, without the unprofessional disadvantages of often-fickle, never-impressive, complete-dependence on a cell phone.

If you’ve read other articles I’ve written, then you know that my company provides virtual phone numbers in a feature-jammed package called Mobile Manager. (That’s my full disclosure, now let’s get back to the article. . .)

Leave it to Chance

So here I was, faced with Chance’s challenge of writing about VPNs, and wondering which benefit I should emphasize most: convenience, productivity, anonymity, identity protection?
After deciding to give them each a paragraph, I kept thinking about Chance’s coolness factor (or “awesome”-ness factor, if you are under 21 years of age; “hip”-ness factor, if you especially enjoyed the ‘60s).  I decided his coolness merited more discussion than the VPNs.
Digression Number Two

So, with thesaurus in hand, I flipped to “cool.” Beyond the thermal synonyms that correspond with “cool,” we find these descriptors: self-controlled, imperturbable, unflappable, deliberate, composed, collected, altogether, disciplined, admirable, impressive, convincing, in control. All traits I’d love to be accused of possessing.

Take a Chance

Why the heck does “coolness” matter and what’s my rambling point? It’s this – Are you a cool REALTOR®? Do you, like Chance, use tools to communicate your craft and to aid you in getting your job done in the most impressive, expeditious manner possible? Or, are you a clone of the next REALTOR®, copying the routine practices and protocols that work – or seem to work – for other REALTORs®?

All other things being equal, clients will always choose the service provider that is clever, crafty, cool. 

Digression Number Three

Don’t’ believe me?  Then let me tell you about a cleaning professional I hired when I lived in another state.  Of my two choices, both were equally impressive and highly recommended.  However, one became the clear winner when she said, “I don’t cut corners, I scrub them.” Now how cool is that?!

If she’s that clever and in control in communicating her services, she must be clever and in control in delivering those services too, right? Well guess what – that’s how consumers think. We unconsciously look for something that stands out from the competition so that we can feel purposeful and smart in our selection of services (as opposed to products where we can clearly see differences).

Being impressive, convincing, in control (remember, all synonyms of “cool”) also gives consumers a vision of a REALTOR they can rely on. 

But, how cool is it to distribute four numbers when one VPN will do it all (even receive/forward faxes). How far would your coolness factor drop if you are unreachable due to your cell phone being out of commission?  Mobile Manager can give you a competitive advantage in a day when customers want an immediate response; and that’s very cool!

Chances Are. . .

. . . you will love the many benefits that a VPN provides: 

  • Convenience - You can distribute one VPN to do it all (even receive/forward faxes). You will always be reachable, despite your cell phone being charged, lost, broken. You can program your VPN (via phone or online) to forward to any phone, anywhere, any time.
  • Anonymity – It may seem odd that I’m talking to REALTORs about anonymity. After all, many of you are the equivalent of local celebrities – No profession makes its face, office address and phone number as readily available as REALTORs. It’s part of the marketing and branding you must go through. However, loss of privacy does not have to be a part of it. There are times when you may want to be reachable, but also want to protect your privacy and preserve your anonymity. Whereas cell phones and landlines can be searched on the web, a search of a VPN will only go as far as the VPN service provider. And, with a VPN, you can return calls from inside the number so that the VPN will be the number stamped on the other person’s phone, not the number of the phone you’re calling from. So, if you long to keep your personal and professional lives separate, want to protect your home life and routine from potential stalkers, have to meet or work with strangers you meet online, etc., then a VPN is probably for you.
  • Identity Protection – When you get right down to it, identity theft is a pretty boring topic – until it happens to you, then it’s all you can talk about.  And, let’s face it – we’ve all become a series of numbers. Our Social Security numbers, pin numbers and telephones numbers are all pieces of information that thieves can “steal” to make purchases and steal money in our name. Again, as pointed out above, a search of your VPN will yield nothing more than the name of your service provider.

If You Just Had a Chance

There’s a reason my cool friend Chance suggested I write about VPNs – He’s a pro at bringing together productivity, mobility and simplicity. So go ahead and take a chance.

(Debra Traverso is the author of hundreds of articles and five books, published in eight languages, a speaker, marketing consultant for Fortune 50 companies, regular lecturer at Harvard University, and vice president of OneCall. She can be reached through www.makejustonecall.com.)

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