Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to manage your emails.

Post 434 - I get hundreds of emails a week while many people I know get hundreds of emails every day. Here are some thoughts about how to cope with that overload and some tips that'll increase the chances that your emails will be read rather than trashed:

* Delete redundancies. If a reader senses repetition, she's likely to start skimming or stop reading altogether.

* Use specifics. Replace adjectives and adverbs with numbers or examples. Rather than "This large mistake is costing us lots of money," it's better to say, "This mistake is costing us $1 million a month."

* Stay on topic. If a sentence doesn't relate to your main point, delete it.

* Remember that many people read their emails on mobile devices. Keep in mind that an email with only ten sentences looks like a lengthy message on a Blackberry screen.

* Don’t write emails when you’re angry, upset or otherwise not yourself. And always avoid sarcasm.

Forwarding emails to share information with others helps build relationships and cultivates networks. Here are three tips for forwarding:

* Be selective when choosing your recipients. The person on the receiving end should think, "He knows what I'm interested in," not, "Oh no, another tasteless joke from him."

* Don't forward funny emails to large groups of people. Just because you think something is funny doesn't mean everyone else will. Avoid the risk of giving offense by being discriminating in what you send and to whom.

* Be considerate of other people's time. If someone doesn't respond to your forwarded message, take the hint and remove them from your list.

Many cold-call emails go without a reply. Whether you’re contacting someone about a job, or prospecting for a sale, or building your network, David Silverman suggests the following four ways to improve your chances of getting the response you want:

* Don't send a generic email that's all about yourself. Personalize it by focusing on what you and the recipient have in common. Mention the group you found her through on Facebook or LinkedIn or something specific you know and admire about her company.

* Demonstrate value by saying exactly what you're offering the recipient. Be upfront about what you can give her and why she should respond.

* Always include a call to action. Specify what you want her to do: email you back, reach out to set up a call, or forward your email to someone else.

* Keep your emails clear, articulate, typo-free, and to the point.

When emails or voice mails go unanswered, we're sometimes left wondering what we did wrong. Here are three tips from Peter Bregman for handling the silence:

* Don't take it personally. Often there's a logical explanation for the silence - the company hasn't funded the position yet, or your colleague has no new information to share. Don't assume you did something wrong. Remember, other people may have other priorities.

* Don't pester. In today's hectic world, sometimes all people can do is to handle crises and keep up with other top priorities. If you're neither, you're unlikely to improve your chances of getting a response by pestering them with repeated follow-up emails or phone calls.

* Once you've sent your follow up, assume you won't hear back. If you do hear back, it'll be a nice surprise. And if not, you won't have wasted your time and energy stressing about it.

A full inbox often means unopened messages, backlogged responses, and unnecessary stress. Gina Trapani suggests the following ways to clear your inbox and your mind:

* Read your email in batches. Don't just scan for urgent messages and leave everything else for later; that's how you eventually get buried. Check your email at set times during the day and immediately file messages into one of three folders: follow-up, hold, or archive.

* Using the "two-minute rule," if it'll take less than two minutes to respond (this covers most of my emails), respond right away and get rid of it. Don't let those easy-to-respond-to messages fill up your inbox.

* I suspect we all get messages from mailing lists that are no longer of interest. Tune your spam filter and set up rules that get as much of the useless stuff out of your way automatically as you can. Then identify those lists that add value and unsubscribe from the rest.

Always remember, there's no such thing as boring information; there's only boring presentation.
Amazing information + terrible presentation = sleep.
“Who cares” information + great presentation = WOO HOO!

No comments: