Improving communication is key to our career success, right? Here are 08 things for ’08 to help us communicate better on the digital playground.
- Don’t solely message people through non-e-mail methods. Send me a “direct message” through Twitter and I have to go into Twitter to reply. Send me communication only through Facebook or LI and I usually have to go through those systems to reply. Make it hard for me and it’s likely I won’t get to it, since I deal with at least two hundred e-mails a day.
- Don’t send me big file attachments. I read a story last night about a media specialist who sent a very large file attachment to a Wall Street Journal editor. The problem was, he was in a hotel, on a very tight deadline, and it hung up his e-mail send/receive process. It’s always a good idea to ASK FIRST, something like “can I send you a 2 MB file?” (what is prompting this post this morning? Someone sent me a 7mb file in an e-mail. Twice.)
- Don’t invite me to anymore social networks. Seriously – I’ve been social-networked-out for years. Right now I’m only concerned about LinkedIn and Facebook (and Twitter, and a couple of niche/industry social networks), and I only do what I need to. I’m not an early adopter, I don’t like to explore or poke around, and I don’t care to the be “the first one.” I don’t have time or mental energy for that.
- When you invite me to LinkedIn, don’t send me three paragraphs about the value of LinkedIn. For crying out loud – I wrote the book on LinkedIn! Can’t you at least read my profile and make the invitation personal? Even a canned, template invitation is better than preaching to me about what I already know about (just read the top of my profile to know that I already get the value of LinkedIn).
- Don’t put me in the cc field and then address me in the e-mail. This is a small pet peeve of mine, but here’s how it works. If you want to address someone in the body of your e-mail, their address goes in the “To” field. If you want to refer to me, but you don’t talk to me, then it goes in the “CC” field.
- Refrain, when possible, from “me too” e-mails. People are busy. I bet the average person I deal with gets one hundred e-mails a day. The last thing we need is irrelevant communication coming our way. When someone sends something to an e-mail list, usually there is no need to reply with a bunch of attaboys (like “I agree”). Of course there are exceptions to this (like, to give congratulations or something like that), but think about the value of the message you are sending … if there is no value, don’t send!
- Don’t be a jerk. I have a few personal examples from 2007 when I crossed the line and was a jerk. I wasn’t even trying to be funny or sarcastic, I was just a plain jerk, no excuses. The problem is that too many people are making very quick decisions, and impressions are lasting. One of my resolutions is still to try and be nice, even when it’s hard, or when I’ve been wronged, or when something isn’t fair. That mean ol’ goofball today might be in a position to be very helpful tomorrow. Besides, maybe they aren’t a mean ol’ goofball, maybe something got lost in the digital translation (perhaps their shortness was simply an attempt to reply to you immediately, and they were pressed for time and mental energy), and they really do care about helping you, or adding value to your business.
- Don’t be a genius. Ok, I wrote something about this a few months ago and was slammed for not holding humanity to a higher intellectual standard. Sorry to those that feel like we’re already dumb enough. But there are two things that will make your e-mail sit in my inbox longer than anything else (as I wonder when I’ll get around to it): First, if it is too long, I’m going to “get to it later.” Second, if it has lots of big words that make me go to dictionary.com, I’m going to “get to it later.” I’m sorry but if you want to have a communication, don’t get all PhD on me. Not that I don’t like intellectual stimulation, but I’m busy. Just like everyone else.
(No, I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed, these things have just been building up over the last few months)
Happy New Year!