How to Get Your Email Answered

Let’s say you’re getting 600 emails a day on average. 50% were people asking me his time, 25% were “really nice people,” 20% were business opportunities, and 5% were friends. A quick bit of math: if he answered 1 email a minute, 600 emails would take me 10 hours to answer.

The thing is, we’re all busy. We all have tons of email. We have no time to get it all handled.

But what will you do to get your email answered (for the most part)?

I’ve got a few thoughts, and this relates to some of what Julien Smith and I talked about in Trust Agents. If you want to improve your chances of an email being answered by someone (like me), here are some thoughts and ideas.

How to Get Your Email Answered

1. Brevity.

I have no time for huge rambling emails. Lead with what you need from me. Fill me in on the backstory (if you feel you must), and then end again with what you need from me. (Most imporant part: lead with what you need from me).

2. Connectivity.

If you talk with me on other platforms (like comment on my blog or talk with me on Twitter or Facebook), then I’m much more likely to know who you are.

3. Skip the flattery.

PR types: starting with “I love your blog” and then pitching me something I could care less about is a bit of a mismatch. You clearly don’t understand my blog if you’re pitching me stories that don’t relate to what I’m doing.

4. Get right to it.

Most emails have about 200 words of throat-clearing. Feel free to just be brief and to the point.

5. Make it mutually beneficial.

It’s very nice that you want me to help you get attention, but it’s rare that this does anything for me. Is there anything you’re going to do for my community to make this more worthwhile for them to care about you?

6. Make every email about resolving to a close.

I hate open-ended emails. Examples: “what would you like for lunch tomorrow?” Instead, how about, “I’m thinking about either tapas or Korean BBQ tomorrow. Do you have a preference?” One makes things close faster. The other makes the message linger.

7. Give the right lead time.

Asking me for something today is probably not going to happen. Asking me for something in three months is going to be forgotten. Think more in terms of two weeks for a typical response, or two or three months for something involving travel. Make sense?

8. Equip a trust agent.

It’s easier to get some kind of response by having someone who knows your target person introduce you.

What else? What else do you think will help?

By the way, since I started my contact form, I’ve found that I *love* responding to information that goes through it. It resolves to a Google spreadsheet, and I can bang out several dozen answers a minute on the form.

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