You’ve Got (Less) Mail | Courageous Workplaces
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I hate email. It’s invasive, asynchronous and inefficient. Yet I find myself using it every day, connected to it at all hours, patiently waiting for that reassuring ding when I get a new message. Is this some weird form of Stockholm syndrome? Not exactly.

Email is the ultimate example of the network effect. If someone emails me, I often have to respond. If I want someone’s response, I have to email them. This pattern repeats itself. And through this interconnected web of communication comes a huge problem: email overload.

Email overload isn’t necessarily about spam, though that’s part of it. Email overload is more about the inefficiencies of using a solution that inherently sucks up time. Is this email important? How do I find the email I’m looking for? How do I convey my ideas succinctly?

The founders of Life Is Good have solved the email overload problem: they have an employee read through their emails and summarize only the important ones. Not all of us have the ability (or money) to do that. But we do have access to collaboration solutions.

Below I share the three most important productivity solutions I use to reduce my time spent on email.

ENTERPRISE CHAT SOLUTIONS – When Yammer first came into existence, it pitched itself as “Twitter for the enterprise.” A+ to their marketing team. Chat solutions – Yammer, Slack, HipChat among them – overcome the asynchronous limitations of email. Wait times for responses is lessened.

Plus, you can opt-in to specific groups at your company. Ever been on an email string you had no interest in? With enterprise chat solutions, you can opt-out of groups where you’re not deriving or adding value.

One benefit of email over phone calls or face-to-face meetings is the permanence of the communication. You can refer back to emails at a later date. With many enterprise chat solutions, you can archive and search chats just as you would with email. No worries there.

CLOUD-BASED COLLABORATION SOLUTIONS – Ever find yourself emailing documents back and forth with a colleague, draft after draft after draft? Then you go back to search for a specific draft and wind up spending hours downloading and searching for that particular file?

WorkSmart.net, a company I do consulting for, has solved that problem through an online productivity suite. Part document management solution, part collaboration solution, WorkSmart lets you upload your files to the cloud and then revise them simultaneously with colleagues, partners and clients. You can assign tasks, track changes and utilize robust searching capabilities to find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus it’s mobile friendly.

Beyond WorkSmart, I use two other collaboration solutions to be more productive: Trello helps me visualize projects better with clients and Evernote allows me to jot notes down instead of emailing ideas to myself.

SOCIAL SELLING SOLUTIONS: A lot of my day is spent reaching out to prospective clients. Email is still the #1 way to do this. But it isn’t necessarily the most effective way.

Social selling is pretty hot right now. LinkedIn has even created a Social Selling Index to help you rank how well you’re utilizing their solution. But the truth is, social selling not only helps you, but it helps the recipient of your communication.

The top social selling solution is still LinkedIn’s InMail. Nobody likes being spammed via InMail. But if you reach out to appropriate partners with it, you’re better able to quickly explain who you are and how you are connected to them. You also save them a bit of time that would have been spent Googling your name.

I also utilize HootSuite to send short updates to LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook, rather than sending out email newsletters. There’s an elegance to social media sites that email simply can’t replicate. Plus, your social media audience can opt-out of your messaging much easier than if you emailed them.

Email is here to stay for the foreseeable future. But don’t get sucked into email overload. Look into the multitude of online productivity solutions that will make you a better employee, partner, and salesperson.

About the author

Andrew Woodberry is a sales, marketing, and business development consultant with extensive SaaS experience.  When he’s not deleting emails, he’s evangelizing the power of productivity solutions for WorkSmart.net.