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Ten Rules for Improved Response to E-Mails and Invitations

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Republished from Jack Myers Media Business Report-4/12/10

Are your e-mails being ignored and phones calls not returned? Are you inviting clients to your events, parties and presentations and not receiving the simple courtesy of a response… not even a simple “no thank you?”

Here are my Ten Rules for Improved Response to E-Mails and Invitations -- ideas to improve the effectiveness of your communications and generate increased response to your e-mails and invitations.

1. Get to the point immediately.

Include a clear message in the e-mail subject line and get immediately to the point in the first line of your message. Don’t beat around the bush or include extraneous background and introductory information.

2. Assume your message is being filtered by an assistant.

Explain why your message is important and relevant. Assume the person reading it does not know you, does not know your company, and is responsible for deleting your message rather than passing it along. Incorporate an issue or opportunity of clear importance to your target and make a compelling case for its relevance.

3. Ask for a response.

In Outlook, under “View” and “Message Options,” you can “Request a delivery receipt for this message,” and “Request a read receipt for this message.” While most people simply ignore these requests, you are inserting one more step into the process and sending a small warning signal to assistants and others before they delete or simply ignore an e-mail message. You’re also increasing the odds that you’ll at least know if your message has been received and opened. Additionally, if you receive no response, it provides an excuse to send a follow-up e-mail pointing out your first message was apparently never received.

4. Communicate simultaneously through multiple outlets.

If you send an e-mail, reach out simultaneously through LinkedIn and Facebook, if available. Use those supplemental media to reinforce that you’ve sent an e-mail invitation or request to their standard e-mail address and are taking the liberty of also reaching out through their Facebook and/or LinkedIn because you know they are inundated and want to be sure they see your message. Reserve this strategy for important messages and communications.

5. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo Outreach

If your targets are registered in one or more of the social networks, reach out and invite them to become a friend/contact. While your invitation might be ignored or rejected, it’s one more way to register your interest in a relationship and one more opportunity to communicate. Always include a personal message with your request, explaining your connection and why you are extending an invitation.

6. Use a Cause Related Connection

By doing a Google or Bing search on your target, and reading available bios and social media profiles, you can often identify a charity, organization or cause that your target supports. Within your message, incorporate an offer to make a contribution to the organization as “thank you” for their support, for joining you at an event, and/or for sharing their feedback.

7. Find a common connection.

If you can identify a common friend or colleague, use that connection to facilitate an introduction. Reach out to mutual associates, explain your interest and request, and ask them to make an introduction or give you permission to use their name in your e-mail. Never use a common connection unless you have permission and know the relationship means something to your target. If you have their permission, use your colleague’s name in the subject line and explain the connection in the first line of the e-mail and why you reached out for an introduction. Always copy your colleague.

8. Impose Responsibility

It’s okay to occasionally impose some guilt and let your targets (and especially their assistants) know that you’ve been asked by your boss – or have some form of responsibility -- to reach out to them. Ask your target to accept responsibility for what is basically doing their job by learning about an opportunity or offer. Ask them to acknowledge with a response that they at least know of your company’s interest in a relationship. “I’ve been asked by my boss, so and so, to reach out to you and arrange a meeting so we can introduce you to our new service that has been designed especially with you and your company in mind. My performance is being judged in part by my success in arranging a meeting and ultimately delivering to you a service that I believe will be valuable to your company. I know your success is also determined in part by identifying valuable new resources and I’m very confident our meeting will be worthwhile. Can we please schedule a meeting in the next 60-days or, if not, please advise me how to best communicate with someone within your company who can review our proposal. It’s important to me to develop a relationship with (company) and I’d appreciate your feedback.” When you employ this strategy, copy your boss.

9. Copy your target’s boss.

If you are not having success breaking through the clutter and capturing the attention of your target, copy their boss. There are many tactics for generating a response and this one needs to be used judiciously and cautiously. In some instances, the message can be sent to the boss and copied to your target, or sent to both. Here’s an example that’s targeted to Robin Young through her boss Anne. “Dear Anne. I’m reaching out to invite you and/or your colleague, Robin Young, to join us for a special private luncheon and meeting with our CEO.” The outreach can be followed up with a phone call to Anne’s office that should either result in a meeting with Anne (best case scenario) or result in a directive from Anne’s office to contact Robin directly. This then empowers you to follow up with Robin’s office and to get through the assistant’s blockade by using the boss’ imprimatur.

10. Use snail mail

If you have an important invitation, question or opportunity, send a personal letter – even hand written. If handwritten, use a printed personalized message card. Assuming it’s a “typed” letter, use formal business design with your company logo and appropriate salutations. It’s good to include “From the desk of (name).” Because snail mail letters are often from charitable organizations or are direct mail pieces, accelerate the “snail” mail to “absolutely has to get attention mail” by sending it via Federal Express or UPS. Either fold the letter and place it inside an addressed envelope, ideally marked “Personal,” or place the letter unfolded in the envelope. If you’re sending an invitation, it’s often a good idea to include a stamped response card that requires minimal RSVP effort.

If you’re a seller, more than 80% of your business communications typically results in no response. You need to resort to extraordinary measures to break through the clutter and increase the odds of a positive response – or any response. The above ideas and recommendations can help. Share your ideas, experiences and recommendations by commenting at http://www.jackmyers.com/commentary/jackmyers-think-tank/98245919.html.

To communicate with or to be contacted by the executives and/or companies mentioned in this column, please email your information and the column headline to Jack directly at jm@jackmyers.com.

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This post originally appeared at JackMyers.com.