I do not like email. There, I said it.
Yes, I know that it’s the basis of many business conversations. I know that people rely on it to keep up with colleagues, family and friends every day. I use email every day myself, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
For me, email is my last chosen form of communication. I loathe when clients prefer to communicate with me mostly or only over email. I end up with long, convoluted threads that I have to go back and re-read every time another email comes in. It’s even worse when there are multiple parties involved in the email conversation.
Recently, I had a conversation with a business executive I admire and he relayed to me his dislike of email. He said that in his experience email gets misconstrued and tones of voice are taken out of context. He said that he can achieve his conversation goals faster through phone calls or face-to-face interactions.
I agreed with his points but, because I love to play antagonist, I argued that email has its place in business because it’s in written form and becomes a record of what was discussed. I asked him, what if you are talking to a client over the phone and you negotiate a price for a service and, after the service is provided, the client “forgets” about that conversation? He nodded gravely and said that’s where email serves its purpose. After a phone call or meeting, that’s when he turns to email. He writes it down as a followup and for the record. This way, it’s not a conversation. It’s more like a replay of meeting notes.
One of the things I didn’t prepare for when I started my own business was the number of email accounts I was going to acquire. Currently, I have six different accounts that I check daily (only one is for personal use). I completely agree that I need all of these accounts. If I’m going to be consistently communicating with my client’s customers, I should have an email account that accurately represents my client’s business. I shouldn’t be using my personal Gmail account for that communication. Still, I’m very grateful that my iPhone allows me to load all six email accounts onto its platform and that it keeps me logged in so I can quickly and almost simultaneously check all of them.
Consequently, my email strategy looks like this:
1) Check all six accounts several times a day, every day.
2) Respond quickly to anything in those accounts that needs my immediate attention.
3) Keep it short. I say what I have to say in the quickest way possible. Most people receive 50+ emails daily and they don’t have time to read any essays from me.
4) The only time I initiate an email is if I have a quick question or need to give a quick status update. For me, email is not about discussion or conversation. It’s how I inform others on my status. If discussion is needed, I’ll send an email out to set up a phone call or meeting.
5) Like with the executive’s strategy I mentioned previously, I follow up meetings and phone calls with an “on the record” email. Here’s what was said. Here’s the timeline. Here’s what we agreed upon. Period.
Do you have multiple accounts? What’s your email strategy? I’d love to hear about it!