With more of us cutting the cord of our landline phones, freelancers are using their personal cell phones to take business calls, often from potential clients whose names won’t come up on the screen. Most of us were taught to answer the telephone with Hello? but for those of us taking business calls on the same number as we take personal calls, it might be time to rethink our phone answering best practices.

What are your options?

Business name – Although it might confuse your friends for a while, they would get used to this option and your potential customers would be comfortable. A very professional choice, you will sound more like an office than a home office if you use your business name.

Your name – We hear it on TV all the time–first name or full name with no other greeting. It can feel a bit abrupt, but there is no mystery about who is speaking and that could put potential clients at ease where a more generic greeting leaves them wondering whether they’ve reached you, your assistant or your boss.

Stick with Hello – This is the most personal way to answer and arguably the warmest, but it doesn’t get your name or your business name to the front of your caller’s mind and might make them have to ask to whom they are speaking. Getting your caller comfortable quickly could be a major asset to your business.

Consistency is important if you want this level of nuance in your personal branding. If you are quick on your feet, answer one way when you know who the caller is and in a more businesslike way when you don’t or if your caller is a professional contact.. If you are more of a creature of habit, make a thoughtful choice and stick with it.

I’m going to go follow my own advice now and start answering my cell phone with “Hello, this is Wendy” and see how it goes! Let us know if you make a change and how you feel about it.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative