I send a lot of emails. A lot. I wish that weren’t the case. I’m a big believer that email decreases productivity and is generally misused (if you’ve ever had a 20+ email exchange on a silly topic you know what I mean), but for many reasons email seems to be the legacy solution that simply won’t die.
My general views are as follows:
- Emails can be misconstrued very easily. Don’t put in writing what you wouldn’t say on the phone. If an exchange starts to take the wrong tone, pick up the phone.
- Think of most email like a mini status report. Summarizing what it is you need/want in 1 to 3 sentences and outline an action item or next step.
- Write 1 long email vs. 5 to 10 smaller emails. I feel like sometimes I stand-alone in this camp, but I prefer to receive and write 1 long email that can be kept in a reference folder vs. having to look for several emails.
- Keep your inbox empty (like you do your real mailbox) and file emails in the following categories: archive (you’ve read it and no action item or follow up required), follow-up high (important task), follow-up low (not urgent), hold (no current action item required, but you know you will need the email to reference soon or it’s a generally helpful email to have handy). If it doesn’t have a place in one of those boxes it should be deleted.
- Lastly, whenever possible, use a template email to save time drafting hundreds of versions of, effectively, the same thing.
This last point is likely my most leveraged and helpful in terms of keeping me efficient via email. I call these templated emails my Pocket Emails, because it’s like pulling them out of my pocket to send.
I’m sharing these in the hopes that they may help you gain control of your email and save you time & misspent energy.
Copy & Paste at will…
Advice (Person you know)
Subject: Seeking Advice & Counsel
I’m working on a project and could really use your help & expertise. I’m having trouble with [describe the problem you’re having]. Any advice on how to best handle? If jumping on a quick call is easier, feel free to call or let me know a time that’s convenient to call. Thanks as always.
Advice (Person you DON’T know)
Subject: Seeking Advice & Counsel
I’m working on a project and could really use your help & expertise. I came across your website/LinkedIn profile [or insert how you came to learn about them] and believe you’re the best person to provide guidance. I’m having trouble with [describe the problem you’re having]. Any advice on how to best handle? If jumping on a quick call is easier, feel free to call or let me know a time that’s convenient to call. Thanks as always.
Following up from a previous communication (phone, email or the like)
Subject: Following Up from our [insert reason]
Hello. Hope this note finds you well.
I’m checking in on our conversation about [the project, job, phone convo we had, etc.]. I’d like to move forward by [insert what you want to achieve i.e. scheduling a follow-up call, schedule the next round of interviews, etc.]. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to facilitate further. Regards.
Subject: Meet/Call on XX/XX @ 2:00PM
Hi there. I want to get on your schedule to discuss [enter reason]. Does the proposed time in the subject line work for you? If not, let me know a day/time that works I’ll make every effort to be open. Thanks.
Subject: Need to move our [meeting/call]
I apologize, but I need to reschedule our meeting/call. How does 3:00PM on XX/XX work instead? If that doesn’t work, please let me know a day/time that works I’ll make every effort to be open. Thanks.
Checking in on an old acquaintance or colleague (a severely underrated task)
Subject: Been a while…
Hi! How are you? It’s been too long. What’s new with you? I’d love to catch up and see how things are going. Do you have some time to [get coffee, get on a skype call, get a beer]? Talk soon.
Referral of product, service, website, book, etc.
Subject: You need to checkout [item in question]
I came across this [insert thing] and thought of you. Specifically, I thought that you’d appreciate [enter why you thought this would be important to them].
P.S. I hate when someone sends me a link and doesn’t tell me why they think it’d important to me so I try not to do the same. My list of articles, books & blogs is so long I try not to add to the list unless I believe it’ll have a significant impact.
Someone who sent you a recommendation for product, service, website, book, etc.
Subject: Appreciate it
Thanks for the [item in question]. Appreciate you taking the time and thinking of me. Hope all is well.
Subject: Would love to discuss partnership possibilities
Hello. Hope this note finds you well. I’d love to talk to you and/or your team about a possible collaboration. I believe that [I/we/my product or service] can bring significant value to your organization [or customer base] and vice versa. Specifically, I’d like to discuss [what your dream scenario is]. Could we set-up a [call/meeting]? Appreciate your time.
P.S. In this above scenario, if the initial response is cold, I will often follow-up with an email that offers to send them a proposal of the partnership for their review. In this example, I’d assemble a killer deck to blow them away.
Applying for a job
Subject: Interested in discussing [title of job] position
Good afternoon. I’m interested in the position of [xyz] at your company and would love to discuss how my background and qualifications are a fit. Attached you can find a resume [and cover letter if you’ve prepared one] for your review. I’d love 15 minutes of your time over the phone to discuss further. Look forward to hearing from you soon.
Introduction to decision-maker at company where you want a job (person you know)
Subject: Referral for [title of job] position @ [company name]
Hey there. Hope this note finds you well. I’m interested in the position of [xyz] at [xyz] company and noticed that you’re connected to [xyz person]. I’m hoping you can facilitate an introduction to them and get my foot in the door. Attached is a resume and cover letter — could you see to it that it gets in their hands? I’d be forever in your debt. Thanks in advance.
Introduction to decision-maker at company where you want a job (person you DON’T know)
Subject: Referral for [title of job] position
Good morning. I’m very interested in the position of [xyz] at your company, but regrettably am not connected to anyone at [company name] via LinkedIn. In searching for a potential kindred spirit I came across your name and was hoping you could facilitate an introduction to [the hiring manager or xyz person]. Attached is a resume and cover letter — could you see to it that it gets in their hands? I’d be forever in your debt. Thanks in advance.
Turning down a [insert whatever you’re saying no to]
Subject: Appreciate the offer
Hope this email finds you well. I appreciate your note and your offer. Regrettably, I must turn down [a meeting in person, job, partnership, etc.]. I simply [the reason you’re turning it down without going into too much detail. Keep it simple & clean. e.g. can’t commit the time, resources, it’s not a right fit, etc.] at this time. I’d love to stay in touch should this, or another, opportunity be mutually beneficial and the timing is right. Thanks.