They say that an army travels on its stomach, and the business world likewise functions on e-mail. And even if you personally get a manageable amount of e-mail, you need to assume that the important folks you're mailing — venture capitalists, CEOs, journalists, and so on — are virtually paralyzed with hundreds of messages each day. Assume it, because it's true.
So how do you cut through the noise and make sure your mail in particular is read? Well, there are no guarantees in life, but there are some steps you can take to dramatically improve your odds. By paying attention to e-mail etiquette, you can help your busy, important e-mail recipient spend some time on your message and give it the attention it deserves. So says FlightCaster co-founder Jason Freedman. Here are his top 5 e-mail tips — see his blog for more:
Write explicit and detailed subject lines. Vague subject lines can result in your e-mail never getting read. Instead, be explicit. In fact, if our mail is asking for information, put the actual question in the subject line. Treat the message itself as a way of amplifying the subject.
Send the mail from your corporate account. If you send mail from your personal Gmail account, you make it difficult for the recipient to figure out who you are.
Include some context. Even if you had a great, warm, and personable conversation with the recipient just a few days ago at the annual shareholder's meeting, e or she probably needs a refresher about who the heck you are. Include a short description of who you are, how you met, and why you're writing.
Keep it short. Freedman recommends limiting the entire e-mail to about 5 sentences or less. Make it easy to scan and reply to, or else you might never get a reply at all.
Make your request explicit. Whatever you are looking for — a meeting, more resources, money, advice — be absolutely explicit. The recipient should not have to guess at your meaning because you were trying to be polite or coy.
Thanks to Dave Johnson / BNet / CBS Interactive