3 Things We Can All Do To Make Our Emails Better

I hope that you’re enjoying a pause right now and thinking about the people and things that matter most to you.

A friend shared this article with me about Volkswagen’s effort to limit after-work conversation and it struck a chord with me – that we should all think about ways to improve our communication style and that there are simple, concrete things we can do to improve this communication.

Tell people what you’d like them to do, not how you’d like them to do it

The better you can share what needs to be done and to make it factual, the more likely you’ll be to get the results you want. To that end, keep emails short and to the point – emotional conversations should happen using the phone or in person. There are lots of great resources to help you do this, including the Three Sentences technique.

Ask for what you want

In each email, make it very obvious what you’re requesting. If you ask for one or two things in each email – detailing who you expect to do the thing, what it should look like when it’s done, and by when it should be completed – you’ll have a task blueprint that should be pretty clear to another person (and not just to you.) There are many frameworks for these goals – one common one is the SMART goal.

Be a Great Copywriter

Finally, imagine that your email (just like your blog post) is competing for attention with everything else someone might be doing in a day. To that end, you really need to write a great headline or subject to your email to make sure it gets read. It’s best if that subject line is actionable – giving a call to action, a hint at the result, and seems bite-sized enough to represent the smallest big thing that someone might decide to do today. To that end, please try to implement these three suggestions in your next email.

Customer Service, Social Networking

How to be useful on Twitter

3 Steps for Making Yourself useful online.

Be useful on Twitter.  There are a few things you can do to make yourself helpful, to provide additional value, and not too annoy your new-found Twitter friends.  You can do this by engaging in conversations, sharing content in a value-added way; and to limit your conversations to the channel where they make sense.

Make Yourself Helpful

You can be useful on Twitter by engaging in conversations — this is not just posting your own links, but answering questions and providing responses — and building new relationships.

Search for like- and differently-minded people

A great way to do this is to use the search feature at find a topic where you have interest or where you’re an expert and search for other people who are interested.  Start by @ replying people: as they respond, you’ll find some people who are great contacts and others who might not respond.  Keep the people who are interested and they will start to become your basic audience.

Offer to Help

Imagine that when you are talking to your audience on Twitter, you’re not only talking to the people who you at reply, but also the people who might tune into a content hashtag.  If this sounds weird, just try it — offer to help — and see who responds.

Share by adding value

As you’re sharing with your new-found (or existing audience), try to think of what they would actually like to read, either because it’s topical, related to your expertise, or just something that fits with your brand.  One great post is much more important than posting 20+ times a day.

ReTweet with Care

Retweeting can be a great way to share content, but make sure that you tell your readers why something is worth reading.

Example: “I love what Bill has to say: [put the link here] (via @BillsTwitterHandle) tells you much more than “RT @BillsTwitterHandle [put the link here]”

Your Thoughts are Important too

Although Twitter is often derided as being “the place where people write about what they had for breakfast”, the most important thing to share on Twitter is … your thoughts.

People do want to hear your thoughts when:

  • you’re asking a question
  • you have something bite-sized to share that will make sense to others tuning in for the first time
  • when you’re adding value to an existing thought (see RT above)

People are probably less excited about reading things that you would prefer not to be said in a public place anyway (use your best judgement — would you want this photo or statement ending up on the front page of a newspaper popular blog?)

Conversations Matter – Make them Count

Conversations start in lots of different channels, but it isn’t always appropriate to have the whole conversation on Twitter.  Where you’d like to share with others (on a topic that they care about, in the course of a hash-tag chat, or simply to directly reply to someone with the answer to a question) conversations on Twitter have great value.  Ultimately, conversations are the things that make Twitter go — be helpful, make your conversations valuable by adding original thoughts, and make sure you have a few conversations every day.

Remember, conversations are the interactions that prove you’re not an automated Twitterbot, so go talk to people and be useful!