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.
Here are 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 are 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 text communication is the permanence of the exchange. 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 has helped to alleviate that challenge through an online productivity suite which is part document management solution, part collaboration solution. You can upload files to the cloud and 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. Trello, an online organization board is a visual way to organize anything with anyone and especially helps me to visualize projects. I also use Evernote 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 as well.
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.
The standard communication channels, phone and email, are here to stay for the foreseeable future. But don’t get sucked into email overload when it comes to internal communication. Look into the multitude of online productivity solutions that will make you a better employee, partner, and salesperson.