A big part of my new job is emailing people. Not just emailing them once, but sending an initial message, waiting a couple of days, then following up over and over again until they address my questions. Some people respond to the first email, which is great. Some people respond to the second, which is also great. A few people don’t respond until the sixth or eighteenth email. (At least theoretically — I haven’t gotten to that point yet. It’s only been two weeks.)
Maybe the follow-up email is an obvious technique, but it never occurred to me until I started work at ORO. I felt like I could send an email once and leave it at that. If the recipient wanted to respond, they would respond. If they didn’t — well, so much for that! However, when you’re talking to clients and vendors on behalf of a business, you can’t be so laissez-faire.
What’s really great is that the follow-up email works, probably through the power of sheer annoyance. By popping up in someone’s inbox repeatedly, I make them think, “Ugh, this Sonya chick won’t shut up until I respond. FINE.” Basically, I push myself to the top of their to-do list.
I fully intend to use this realization to further my personal interests as well as ORO’s. Expect more irritating emails from me! Sorry in advance.
Quick thought sparked by the first letter in a recent Ask a Manager post: Email conversations should require one salutation/introduction, in the first message. After that, everyone should just say whatever they have to say. No need to write “Hello” and “Sincerely” every time.
Recent developments in “trends I find disturbing”… Farhad Manjoo interviewed Stewart Butterfield, one of the co-founders of Slack, an intra-office messaging service that’s being touted as the replacement for email. I don’t really care about email being supplanted in the workplace. What bums me out is this description of Butterfield’s worldview:
“He is betting that solo work is on the wane and that as all of our jobs become more complex, more and more creative and technical feats will be accomplished by teams rather than lone practitioners.”
Ughhhh. This is just like high school, being forced to participate in endless group projects. I am a perfectionist—thus a control freak—when I care about something. Working with other people is the worst. We almost always have differing standards. I want to be a lone wolf! My concern is probably really immature, but I can’t help it. Collaborating is so fraught.
Since you encouraged responses, I’m responding! […] Secondly, a meta-response about responding itself: One of the things I like about newsletters, as opposed to blog subscriptions, is that when I receive something in my email inbox, it feels like the start of a dialogue. For example, if you posted Dispatches on your blog/website, I wouldn’t comment. But here I am writing you back. It’s the action that I’m used to taking after I finish reading an email, (most of the time). The format — maybe “venue” is a better word — is conducive to a back-and-forth exchange.