It's the digital age, people: Time to step up your email game! Emails have replaced phone calls, faxes, letters, and meetings. So let's start doing it right.
1. Have a branded email address.
Gmail is pretty great, but if your organization is using personal email addresses, you’re sending the message that you don’t take your work seriously. Even though setting up a branded email takes time, it is definitely worth the effort. A branded email says to the world, “I took this venture seriously and I invested in its infrastructure.”
2. CC like you've been there.
At least once a day, I get an email that is completely irrelevant to my role in a particular venture. For the sender, I believe the decision to CC goes something like, “Hm, who may ever become mildly curious about this program?” and from there, the CC train goes off the rails. CCing has to be handled responsibly. No one likes to have their time wasted. If a long train of emails will lead up to a decision that someone should know about eventually, do the considerate thing and send an FYI email once the call is made.
3. No, for real, grammar.
This should go without saying, but grammar and spelling are still important in emails. Opening up an email formatted like a business letter is definitely awkward, but when I see an email that’s written like a text it’s worse. Spelling and grammar checks exist for email. It may be worth checking them out!
4. Reply skills.
Oh, the pain of that email lost in the ether, unacknowledged. No one thinks it went to your spam folder. We all know you just ignored it and haven’t circled back. So give emails a 48-hour reply window, at an absolute max. If you’re waiting on additional info to reply, say so.
Your inbox is a direct reflection of your soul. Something you stare at every day, sometimes for hours a day, should not feel chaotic and stressful. Develop a system and stick to it. For me, this means leaving emails in my inbox only when they require follow-up. Once the job is done, I archive them. Nothing looks better than a clean inbox! And when that one undone thing lingers eternally? I notice!
6. Subject for searching.
One of the sad drizzles that rains on my email parade? Messages that I can’t search for, because the subject is unclear or the message is lost in an eternal email chain about something else. In the land of infinite inboxes, this is like a carton of milk with no date stamped on it. When I need to reference that note you shared with feedback on a project, searching for it is really important. So reference the project. A quick “Logo for Tim” or “Draft for Sarah” changes the search game and generates a ton of goodwill for you. The joy will be felt by those you work with in the late hours of finishing up their next project. And who couldn’t use some karmic love?
Go ahead people! Go take over the email universe!