Yesterday I sent the following tweet:
“I’m refusing to put my email address on my new business cards. Inspired or foolhardy? #whatsayyou?”
Here are some of the replies I got:
“foolhardy we are in a social circle but not everyone is!”
“Seems a bit pointless – surely the aim of a card is to help people get in touch?”
“the logical extension of your stand would be to delete your email altogether! That would make you an early adopter”
Granted, email does have some valuable uses. It remains the de-facto sign up tool for sites and services and as a community manager, it helps me manage users, registrations and alerts. It is also useful for sharing documents although I personally find file sharing services like dropbox and mobile me etc much better. It is not this use of email that I object to. Nor is email, when used in this way, a burden on my (our) everyday lives.
For me, the problems start when email becomes a substitute for conversation. And I am not alone it seems. HBR recently suggested it was time for a vendetta against email – here here!
So, as this is my second blog post on the subject I have decided the time is right to act, or rather to take control. And the first step as you have seen is to remove the email address on my cards. Of course, Im not going to stop using email completeIy – I will still have one, (In fact I have 10 email accounts – of which 5 I use every day) and will give it to clients and contacts once we are engaged. But instead of handing it out willy nilly, and settling for a stilted dialogue over the ether, I’m opting to talk more to people instead. And I’m encouraging them to talk to me.
Other things I’m going to try:
- Checking my email less frequently – twice during a normal day max
- Put an auto-respond on my email accounts – telling people I check my email less frequently and to call me instead
- Cull my email accounts – I’m finally going to let go of some and consolidate on one or two (Hat tip to @marcmapes for the inspiration)
- Increase my use of file sharing and collaboration tools
So fellow blog readers, going back to my original tweet, what do you think? Foolhardy or inspired? And what useful tips do you have to reduce the evil burden of email?!
I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that email is not designed for conversation. Perhaps ten/fifteen years ago it was an acceptable alternative to conversing over snail-mail, but now we have even better tools.
Email is not my first choice for opening a dialogue. I would even say that the phone comes behind services like LinkedIn and Twitter for this. These online social platforms let you instantly see who you are conversing with, who you both know and get a sence of how genuine they might be.
In the same way that snail-mail has become the way you get the tax disk for you car, product purchases and some junk mail – email will become the domain of community membership administration, file sharing and spam.
Gareth – I like the thinking, I really do. But email ain’t dying, because the world isn’t changing fast enough. If my clients want me to communicate by email (because they are inundated by ridiculous and time-wasting calls from typical recruiters or otherwise), then I’m with them.
Email is a prelude to conversation, or a follow-on from conversation. It should never REPLACE the verbal conversation. It supplements, records, confirms, and suggests – and in doing so wastes little actual time. It’s convenient, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
People can over use the email, sure enough. But it is the easiest way to genuinely get hold of the modern professional on many occasions.
That’s not going to change too quickly.
I do agree, but for running a business, sometimes email is the best option. Emails are never busy, or put on hold. if your phone is busy, theres nothing more frustrating than having to ring back. Or people forget. Emails can be sent whilst on the phone to some one else, allowing people to multitask. It also is like a proper record of the convo, no matter how many notes you many take during a phonecall, you can omit some important details.
Yes, I know that business operated well before emails were around, but the technology is there to help, not hinder. Also, it helps greatly with cost savings for smaller companies. Its worth giving people the option at least, and concentrate on getting a great phone deal, or using Skype, to let you speak to people for cheaper.
Whether it’s dead or you’re trying to kill it, I think e-mail is quickly becoming a dinosaur. Networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, even Facebook are now the medium of choice. I wrote a similar article on my blog. You can check it out with the link below.
Hmmm, my view? I think you’re perhaps trying to make a point Gareth. Otherwise, why not just crack on and do it? It would be interesting to assess a response over and above a small group on social media too. To an extent you may be preaching to some of the converted here in this forum.
Email is just another communication tool. They all have a role to play, some more than others but it’s horses for courses for different people. As much as I think there is a benefit in aiming to have more conversations, many of my customers find email is useful and complimentary to other forms of communicating, not a substitute for a conversation.
Yes, help to educate those (or reject) who use email as the holy grail. But accept that there probably isn’t one single answer – eliminating email or similar is cutting off a voice if sorts. Perhaps it’s not your favoured one, but it feels like you’re using a sledge hammer to crack a nut that is a bit of a bug bear for you.