Email. You probably know it as that lovely little tool that pretty much rules your life. In my eyes, it’s both the greatest--and also the worst--innovation impacting business today.
Email is great for short follow-up questions, forwarding presentations, and sending around office humor. Emails suck, however, for explaining a point of view, sucking up, getting angry, scheduling meetings (have you ever had an email tennis match to schedule a lunch?), getting the best seat at a restaurant, screening new employees, and negotiating a deal (though lawyers love negotiating via email as it makes it last longer).
So how do you balance email’s pros and cons?
At Yes To we have built our business over the past few years at lightning speed, growing to be the second largest natural beauty brand in the country. We never would have achieved this by emailing people. We did this by picking up the phone. Yep--that old-fashioned device connected to the curly cord. We cold called, we bantered with a unique sense of chutzpah (more on that later)… and we always (without exception!) met face-to-face. We accumulated millions of frequent flyer miles, packed countless overnight bags, and consumed copious amounts of wine with the best of them.
I cannot think of one major business relationship where we didn’t take the time to nurture it in person. However, I can think of many times where a relationship was nearly destroyed over an email that was taken the wrong way, or where the tone came across as angry or arrogant--none of which would have happened had they heard our cheery voices.
I recently had a close business associate comment that she was happily surprised that I always replied to her emails with a phone call. I wanted to her to know I had plenty of time for her and that a phone call was more personal. The phone call took the exact same amount of time and allowed me to introduce other important topics into the conversation.
One last tip for those of you who are determined to use email as your primary communication tool: When you write an email, please start with a friendly greeting such as Hi, Dear, G’day, Bonjour (even Yo! if that’s your thing). Please, please don’t start with someone’s name and a comma. It’s curt, it’s lazy, and it’s unnecessarily cold. It’s a pet peeve of mine, and the upside is so worth it.
So remember, business is done face to face and email is for follow up.