Imagine for a moment that you're pitching new business. You have the correct contact and are preparing your initial outreach email. It has to be perfect, so you spend hours crafting a compelling message. You spell-check and grammar-check to the point of OCD, and you feel really good about your pitch. GIRL ON FIRE good. Then you take a deep breath and hit SEND. (INSIDER TIP: Don’t add the “to” address until after you’re sure the email is perfect. You don’t want to hit send by accident!) For the rest of the day, you refresh your inbox every few minutes anxiously waiting for the moment that you will see her name. But you see nothing. You wake up the next morning desperate to see a response in your inbox. Zero. Days go by and still nada. You're bummed, and you start to think that maybe your pitch wasn't as good as you thought it was. Your confidence is crushed, and you begin to doubt your worth.
The other side of your email tells a different story. The person you contacted was on vacation the day you emailed her. In Mexico to be exact. Had you checked her Instagram before sending your pitch, you would have seen her sipping margaritas on the beach. Cute bikini. She didn't put her "out of office" response on because hell, she forgot. Days later when she got back to the office, her inbox had 1,524 unread emails, and she decided to just delete them all. "If anything is really important, they'll stalk me," she reasoned.
But you'll never know that story. You only know the sound of silence. Your takeaway is that she's not interested in what you have to offer, and your pitch and strategy need an extreme makeover.
Audience and circumstance have a lot to do with our success. Of course, it would be so much easier if everyone was responsive, but the reality is that you can't let the sound of silence deter you from pushing on. Within a reasonable amount of time, it's perfectly acceptable to reach out again.
(INSIDER TIP: Wait a few days before you follow-up unless something is really time sensitive. People are genuinely busy. If after that you don’t hear back, it’s probably safe to assume it’s a no go. That's when I would re-examine the pitch and how you can improve upon it).
I have always prided myself on being responsive on email. I respond at the same pace whether I’m writing to an assistant or a CEO. Why? For starters, I don't want my inbox to swallow me whole. The other reason is that I believe that the most responsive people are the most successful. Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45 am to get a head start on emails. He gets about 700-800 a day and answers most of them. So ask yourself, are you busier than Tim Cook? Throughout my career, I have always subscribed to the mentality that the more accessible you are, the more INDISPENSABLE you are. Just like those go-to jeans that never let you down, being a go-to person for your boss or colleagues makes you more important. People like to work with people they can count on. Here's a fun fact: The CEO's I email with respond almost INSTANTLY too. Now that's not to say that you can't have downtime, work detox is important too. But neglecting your inbox for too long can be detrimental to your career.
I’m pretty confident about my point of view, but for the sake of inclusion I decided to take a survey on people's email habits. Six hundred and forty people took my survey, and I think the results are very telling. If you’re too busy to read the actual survey report way below, here is a taste of the data:
So I hope after reading this you will be inspired to be a better communicator. I’m not sure when ignoring an email became the equivalent of saying no, but that’s a practice that has to stop. It’s great to have conviction and if the answer is no, just say it. Bonus points if you share why.
Connecting with people is an essential ingredient to your success. Courtesy counts and if you like being heard try to remember that others do too. The only sound of silence we should ever hear is by Simon & Garfunkel. Google it.