A Lesson in Business Communication Via Email
Here’s a short note that we wrote for ourselves, reminding each other about how business communication could be effective and pleasant at the same time.
So, we as a team have been on the receiving end of numerous emails asking us for updates. With time, we’ve sort of mastered the art of sending such emails. Here’s how we’d like to send follow-up and “gentle reminders” to people.
PS: This isn’t a template. This isn’t a guide. A lot of these are “tips” that work for us. We put these together to help remind each other. And we hope these are useful to you as well. And no, these aren’t just limited to an email, but communication in general. They aren’t something you tick off while crafting messages, but tips you inherently begin practising!
So, here goes.
1. Gauge the situation.
Follow-ups are great. Most opportunities get lost in the midst of busy emails and even a lack of initiative. So, follow up. But first, analyze your situation/context/understanding with the other party. Depending on whether there are contracts in place, or this follow-up dilemma is an aftermath of an informal chat, the expectation you should have from the other side will differ.
2. How often is too often?
We like to follow up once a week unless we’ve been specifically asked to chat or remind the other person on a specific date. It’s never too early or late!
3. Provide value with each email!
We take a follow-up email as an opportunity to inform the receiver about what you’ve been up to in the time period that has elapsed since the last communication. We also try to slip in some humblebrags, some hint of our capabilities that are specific to the conversation happening. This helps set context, and provide value to each piece of communication.
For instance, if it was a cold email, the first email would’ve had details about our work in general. Should we get another opportunity, in each subsequent email, we would get into more detail about what we can offer to them.
PS: Cold emailing is another artform altogether. We are yet to master it!
4. The tone of your email matters.
Most follow-up emails end up making the third party feel guilty about something they were “supposed” to do and did not do. While this may be unintentional, it can leave a bad aftertaste. And this is why a tiny change in the message can go a longway!
For instance, instead of the email saying “any update on this?”, we try to write, “I hope you got great value from all the people that pitched to you. Please do let us know if you’d need anything further from us”
The former is curt, straightforward, and transactional, but the latter sounds polite and courteous!
Should you get an email from us that doesn’t follow these “principles”, please do point it out! And should you have other, better tips to share, we are all ears!