Tuesday 29 June 2010

Why some people don’t respond to our emails

I had a very interesting and valuable conversation with a colleague yesterday about emails and my occassional frustration about the fact that a lot of people these days do not respond to my emails, or if they do, in the main people seem to take a long time to reply.

For the record I receive about 100 emails per day of which about 20% are spam.  Of the 80 that aren’t spam I reply to them within 24 hours, regardless of where I happen to be in the world.  I consider this a courtesy.  If people have taken the time and energy to write to me I consider it an obligation to respond, whether they have asked me to or not. I do tell people I generally only answer emails twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. I appreciate this is my choice and I understand I have no right to expect reciprocity.

My colleague (one who rarely replies to my emails!) suggested she only replies as a general rule if there is a call to action and that if in her view she feels that the email was directed to her personally rather than a general email that feels like a cut and paste.  My friend would never reply to a group email not specifically addressed to her.

We live in an age where social media is overwhelming to many people.  It is a choice I say, however I do admit that the volume of it all causes a noise so loud, it is tempting to ignore it all, or only choose to engage sparingly.

Here are the ways in summary that I manage social media:
  • I only answer emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night unless it suits me to do otherwise. Nobody minds if you let them know up front. My clients tell me my service is right up there with the best and that they get replies from me faster than anybody else
  • I am in 42 groups on LinkedIn however most are for research purposes and keeping up to date with what people are saying in my fields of expertise. I actively contribute to 5 groups, one being Leaders Cafe Foundation which is a strong alliance partner with differencemakers community
  • I tweet at least once daily which also automatically updates my linkedin status meaning I don’t have to.
  • I use tweet deck to do most retweets because it is easier than on the twitter site
  • I blog twice a week and cut and paste the same blog onto usually 6 different sites where I have a following
  • I update Facebook once a week that includes invitations from new friends etc. I delete Facebook emails in my inbox
  • I update the other 15 sites I am a member of once a fortnight and whereever possible do this automatically via Twitter updates. I only respond to emails from these other sites once a week and tell people this is what I do
  • I write a monthly ezine in addition to the weekly update I write for differencemakers community. My ezine also gets published on several other sites which requires some work on my part
I am spending 24 hours a week doing the above and working on the differencemakers community which takes me about half that time.


My key business growth strategy is that buyers of my services and products come to me. Beginning 18 months ago I have phased out all traditional marketing, selling, networking etc., etc., and I am very glad I did. I spend my time and energy as described above adding value and giving my insights away. I operate a free to fee business model. I give lots of valuable stuff away. Relationships develop and grow. A percentage of people then pay for additional insights particularly when such insights are delivered in person which obviously suits what I do.

My strong suggestion would be that unless you have a business growth strategy like mine you shouldn’t be spending any more than a couple of hours per day on social media and social networking (including email), otherwise your productivity will be negatively effected and your return on investment poor.

PS I predict email will soon be if it isn’t already the poor cousin to twitter or another tool not yet invented. Much of my regular contact with folk is now via direct message on twitter which is easily managed using tweet deck and because of the 140 character limit you quickly learn to say more through less words which also helps productivity.

PSS My monthly mobile phone plan recently expired so I got an iphone. I am paying less than I was before including insurance! Yes the iphone is a really great device. It means I carry my laptop less for one thing however the key is it is turned off most off the time as my previous phone was because I make and receive calls etc., when it suits me in order to maximise my productivity.  My clients and friends know this is my modis operandi.

Call to action

How about you?  How do you manage social media?
I would be very intersted in your thoughts either via the comment box or via direct email to me ian@ianberry.au.com

For the record I have resolved as a result of the conversation with my colleague to:
  • Not send emails as a general rule to a group of people
  • Be more personal in what I write
  • Always ask for a response or provide a call to action
Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a young employee I can’t imagine working long hours without the use of social media. On the other hand, I completely understand why my boss would block me from seeing what’s new with my friends on facebook all the time is unproductive. The problem with blocking these applications is that we are seeing more and more benefits to social media use. That’s why I believe some wasteful parts of social media should be blocked and some parts of social media should be accessible. There is a whitepaper written by Palo Alto Networks, and they have a new software that does exactly this. Here’s a link to it: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp Enjoy!