Home How Entrepreneurs Can Make Better Use of Email

How Entrepreneurs Can Make Better Use of Email

Investors get lots of emails. Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group wrote just this morning on how he wishes email were slower so he wouldn’t suffer from what he calls “Email Compulsive Disorder.” That being said, there are ways to write better messages when communicating with investors (or anyone who receives a lot of email daily) that will make the process simpler, quicker and will better your chances of hearing back from them.

Babak Nivi over at Venture Hacks wrote today on scheduling meetings with investors via email, and how he hopes the the back-and-forth can be simplified. Using dummy emails, Nivi shows that scheduling a meeting with busy, email-laden investors requires more to-the-point conversations; instead of vaguely proposing to meet “sometime next week,” be specific and outline your availability right now and in the near future.

Nivi also suggests using services like Plancast to see if a potential investor will be in your area soon and use that to schedule a meetup. If not, get on the horn. Other ways to streamline this process include keeping your email short, but not colloquial (stay away from Internet abbreviations), and including some good news about your company that provides some context.

These guidelines are great for entrepreneurs looking to communicate with investors, but the same rules can be used in other situations. To be honest, I am probably guilty of not being terribly specific when people want to chat with me on the phone; I let the email chatter go back and forth until a time is agreed on instead of asserting my availability. At the same time, startups and PR agencies could potentially learn some lessons from Nivi’s article when reaching out to media to share their story.

Personally, I only like press releases when they accompany a short personal message. I get a lot of press releases sent to my inbox, but as 37signals‘ Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson said in their new book Rework, press releases are like spam to journalists. We get tons of them every day, so chances are simply sending a press release won’t get you as far as taking a different approach.

The emails I respond to most frequently have a short personal message. I get a few emails each week that not only talk directly to me, but will also mention something else I have written about in the past. It may seem gimmicky, but I’m more likely to read an email from someone who understands the topics I cover.

Sometimes when emails pile up, I may not respond to some messages I may have genuinely been interested in because they got lost in the deluge. Now and then I rediscover and older email when the sender pings me by sending another message under the same conversation. This lets me review their first message and reassess, plus it tells me they actually care enough to send a friendly reminder, and that I’m not just another writer on their email list.

If you know you’re emailing someone whose inbox bulges each day, do them a favor and keep your emails short and to-the-point. When scheduling meetings, be specific, not vague; it helps to keep the volume of emails down, and is less stressful in the long run.

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