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Email Best and Worst Practices

Lesson 20 from: FAST CLASS: A Brand Called You

Debbie Millman

Email Best and Worst Practices

Lesson 20 from: FAST CLASS: A Brand Called You

Debbie Millman

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Lesson Info

20. Email Best and Worst Practices

Lesson Info

Email Best and Worst Practices

So, the big question that must be remaining is what about email? What about email? Email is the easy way out to reach people 'cause you could always blame the other person for not responding. Well, I tried, but they never got back to me. I don't buy that for a second. Email is the easy way out because we don't wanna do the harder work that makes us potentially feel scared about being rejected. You can try your hand at email. If you do, I'm going to give you some best practices about email that I've collected. Best and worst practices. But, email at your own risk. It takes an awful lot of time to write something that's really memorable, and the odds are, no one is going to read it. I hate to see all that effort put into something that generally doesn't work. I'm going to talk about some email best practices and worst practices. How many people here read "Brain Pickings?" Good, a lot of people here read "Brain Pickings." It's an amazing website run by Maria Popova. Maria Popova, because ...

it's this super popular website that's writing about people's work, people's books and so forth. She gets a lot of email, like crazy amounts of email. I asked her as somebody that gets a tremendous amount of email, what are some of the best and worst practices? She's given me this list of things to read to you today about email best practices. Here are the nos, these are the don'ts. These are the worst practices. Don't address your email to whom it may concern. It is guaranteed to concern no one. If you're going to write an email, please investigate who to write it to and make sure you spell their name correctly. For some reason, somebody at Sterling is sending me, somebody is sending me emails to my Sterling address, addressed to Dusty. I have no idea who Dusty is, certainly not me. Do you think I read beyond the Dear Dusty? I don't. Not only that, but there's nobody named Dusty at Sterling, so who would know. Okay, spare the bland preamble about the weather, the season, or some other irrelevant generality. You're going to get straight to the point. One thing I also want to urge you to never do is ask someone when you call them how they are, because that's not why you're calling, and you really don't care, and nobody's gonna really tell you. Don't ask questions that have no real sincere answer. Don't ask somebody when you call them as well and they pick up the phone if this is a good time to talk. They will say no, and hang up. If they've picked up the phone, assume it's an okay time to talk. You're only going to be on the phone with them 60 seconds anyway, so you don't want to think about how much time they have or how much time you have. Don't use more than two short sentences to introduce yourself and your work. Don't sign off with something overly familiar, which puts people off, or overly formal, which alienates. So, things like XO XO, or love for the overly familiar, and sincerely and respectfully, which alienates. You can just say, thank you. Don't mix purposes in your email. You're either sending the person a lengthy note of appreciation or asking something specific of them, but not both at once in the same email. Make sure your primary purpose is what you alot the most space to. Don't make multiple different requests in the same email. Remember, you are asking somebody for something. You want to be grateful, and not overbearing, and not ask for too much. Also, things that you should do. Write a clear, concise subject line that articulates the gist of the email. May I interview you for my blog is an example, or I love your work and would appreciate a meeting. Busy people navigate their inboxes by subject line alone, particularly when the senders are strangers. A really clear, concise, sincere subject line is key to getting anybody to open it. Again, with a sincere, and sincere here is in caps with an exclamation point. A sincere compliment about why you appreciate the person you're reaching out to, make your request clear in the first two sentences, and be patient. Remember that you are by far not the only person making demands on your recipient's time and thoughts. If you don't hear back within a week and no sooner, you may follow up, always forwarding the original email and adding a simple short sentence, noting that you're following up. These are the only ways in which you should consider sending emails. But again, remember, I think that emails, while they could be helpful in following up with people, are often not the best way to make a first impression. It's too easy to ignore. Now, when you meet with somebody and you are in their offices, you can certainly follow up occasionally with a promotion or another email once recognize your name. But, I also really prefer the handmade, the handwritten, or the limited edition prints that you can send to people with a reminder of who you are. You want to be doing things that delight people, that surprise people, that show that you are different from everybody else, and you want that work to be good. You do letterpress, make 50 copies or 100 copies of something, and send it to your list of 100. What are the benefits that you can provide in an email? Is there some bit of information that you think would be helpful to their business? Did you just read a white paper that might be inspiring to them? That's the kind of thing you do in an email as followup, but email is not good as a first impression.

Ratings and Reviews

Hilary Larson
 

I was not expecting to get so much out of this accelerated class! Debbie is a captivating speaker who manages to get her points across directly while maintaining a strong sense of relatability with her audience. I really look forward to taking what I have learned here with me as I move forward in my career as a visual artist. Highly recommended.

Michelle
 

This class is for a specific audience - young or new-to-the-field designers. It is NOT a branding class for the regular person. The class description is misleading. However, there are bits and tips that anyone can benefit from, but you have to sit through the entire presentation to get those bits and tips. I am not a designer. Because I had the all-access pass, I dipped in and out of different classes, speeding up and skipping as needed. I found enough value in this Fast Class: A Brand Called You to watch it, rather than the long one. I can see how this would benefit new designers as they job hunt.

Matías Obando Ruiz
 

Debbie the OG

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