Jobs and the Future of Work

10 tips to get busy people to respond to your email

A entrepreneur works at his computer laptop at the so-called "incubator" of French high-tech start-ups "TheFamily" in Paris, France, July 27, 2015.    REUTERS/Charles Platiau

If you want your email to stand out and get a response, you must write it with care. Image: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Avery Blank
Contributor, Forbes
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Busy people have little time to read, let alone respond to, email. If you want your email to stand out and get a response, you must write it with care. This is your opportunity to be heard and engage with someone you respect or admire. Make it count. Here are ten tips to help you get busy people to respond to your email and start a conversation:

1. Write a catchy title.

Is your email click-worthy? It depends on the subject or title of your email. A recipient is more likely to read an email entitled, “In NYC tomorrow (March 14): Available?” than “Hi.” You do not have to exaggerate or be over the top. (Language that is larger-than-life can sometimes be mistaken as spam.) Show specificity and immediacy.

2. Mention something you have in common.

A great way to connect with someone you do not know is to highlight something you have in common with the other person. It helps to develop an emotional connection. Are you both alums of Colgate University? Did you both live in Baltimore at one point? Do you have a mutual friend? If you see on their LinkedIn profile that you have something in common, point it out.

3. Reference positive, recent news connected with the person.

If positive news about the person prompted you to write the email, mention it. You could say, “Congrats on your award.” Acknowledging a recent win of theirs makes them feel good and lets the person know you have an interest in their work.

4. Be concise, and write short paragraphs.

It is exciting to engage with someone you respect or admire. But don’t let your excitement cause you to be verbose. For emails, follow the rule of three: Try to stick to three sentences or three lines of text per paragraph and no more than three paragraphs.

5. Use bullet points.

If you want to share multiple pieces of information, make it easy for the recipient to digest. Use bullet points and phrases. Parse the information out so you don’t loose the reader.

6. Don’t leave room for basic questions.

When referencing an event, include all relevant details so it is easy for the reader to understand the context or make a decision. Mention the Who, the What, the When, the Where, the Why and The How. For instance, if you are extending an invitation to an event, tell me what it is about (include a website link, if possible), the date, time, address and if there is a cost. Providing sufficient information eliminates the back and forth that people dread with using email.

7. Make “the ask.”

If you want something, ask for it. It is okay to have “an ask” but only if you are upfront about it. Don’t try to reel the person in and then ask later. It looks shady. And if you want something, be clear. Put it at the top of your email. Don’t bury it within a paragraph. Don’t make them work for it. If the recipient cannot easily understand why you are writing, they will not respond.

8. Be kind.

Kindness goes a long way. Briefly express your appreciation, and say “thank you.” But don’t over do it. If you show too much gratitude, it can suggest you lack appreciation of your own importance. If you want to engage with important people, you have to believe you are important, too.

Never be demanding. Don’t tell the person they must do something or expect something from them. It is off-putting. The recipient will not respond to your email and probably not to any other communication you attempt to make thereafter.

9. Be a giver.

Let the person know you are willing to help. Saying, “Let me know when I can be of help” is a nice gesture. Even more effective is saying how you can be of help. Be specific. You could say, “Let me know when I can help with reviewing your article,” if you know the person is drafting a piece for publication.

10. Give the recipient an out.

What is better than connecting by email? Engaging by phone. At the close of your email, share your phone number so the recipient has an option to respond in a way that is most efficient for them. You can say, “If you prefer communicating by phone, let me know the best number at which to reach you. Or if it is more convenient for you to initiate the call, here’s my number.”

The sound of someone’s voice helps to establish an emotional connection. The person on the other end of the line can hear your excitement and curiosity.

Use these tips to make your emails count and start building meaningful relationships with the people you want to engage with. This is your chance to make a power play. Play your cards (or your emails) right.

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Jobs and the Future of WorkEmerging Technologies
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