How to Communicate
In this age of social media and 24/7 connectedness, people are getting in touch with me via phone, texting, email, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It’s terrific having all these ways to communicate but I think we need some guidelines!
I’m fine hearing from people through any of those media, and if you’ve texted me or sent me a DM on Twitter, you know I always do my best to respond. But here is my bottom line:
If it’s business, and you need more than a quick yes or no response, you should use email.
A Twitter DM or a text message is great for just a quick note, a yes or no answer, or maybe even to ask if it’s a good time to call. But if you have an important piece of business to discuss, email is the way to go because that is the only way I can keep a record of your question, make sure I answer it, and make sure I file it properly under your name in my email files.
Also, I’m away from my desk a lot, and when I’m not sitting in front of my computer, I rarely look at Twitter or any other social networking. I’ll get a text message on my phone (but if you need more than a quick response, I may not be able to answer) and I’ll get email. That’s all I can promise!
On top of that, I just think it’s completely untenable to expect someone to be keeping constant tabs on SIX different avenues of incoming communication! Agents are in constant communication with over 100 people at any given time, when you count our clients plus all the publishers we deal with. We need to be able to keep that organized, and email is the way to do it.
And speaking of email… I think it’s important to be able to use it efficiently and effectively. Here are some tips:
1. Make sure your display name is YOUR name. (This is the name that pops up in the recipient’s inbox.) You need to have your own email address that you don’t share with anyone. It doesn’t matter what the actual email address is, as long as the display name is your first and last name.
2. Put something appropriate in the subject line. Imagine your recipient needing to file the email and then easily access it later. The subject line should be something BRIEF that will help the person recognize the content of the email. Don’t be too generic, i.e. “Quick Note.”
3. Get to the point quickly. Again, in the interest of being kind to your recipient, keep your email as brief as possible, while avoiding being too curt. With many people in business handling dozens to hundreds of emails a day, this is becoming more and more crucial. But at the same time…
4. Make it personal. Include a real greeting and a nice closing. If you like, a brief bit of small talk is also appropriate and helps to keep your email from seeming terse or demanding. (“Hope you enjoyed your holiday” or “Appreciate your help!”)
5. Clearly state what you need from the recipient if you need a response. Don’t write a six-paragraph email with questions sprinkled throughout, and expect your reader to find and answer them. Make it easy for your recipient to understand what’s expected of them.
What do you think?
Is there anything people do in email that really annoys you? Do you have any of your own tips?
If you have a job in which you’re dealing with dozens or hundreds of people regularly, do you agree with me about needing EMAIL to be the primary method of business communication? Or are you fine with texting, Twitter, whatever?