How to E-mail

E-mail is the single greatest time-waster in modern life.

Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris, of Four-Hour Workweek and Four-Hour Body fame, is on a one-man mission against e-mail.  Check out some of the results for a search of “Tim Ferris e-mail”:

  • How to Check E-mail Twice a Day . . . Or Once Every Ten Days
  • The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check E-mail Again
  • E-mail-Free Fridays and How to Save Your Weekend
  • Outsourcing Life and How to Eliminate E-mail Overload
  • How to Eliminate Junk Mail and E-Mail in 30 Minutes

If you haven’t heard of Tim Ferris, he’s a pretty popular author/blogger/speaker who helped pioneer the “lifestyle design” movement.  But, he’s by no means alone in his hatred of e-mail.  Many CEOs and VIPs have gone on record to say “the madness has to stop”.  Even die-hard communicators like Gary Vaynerchuk find themselves drowning in mail:


So, if you want to reach out to someone who likely gets loads of email, how do you do it?

Be direct: if you can fit your whole question in the the subject line, do it.  If not, make it immediately clear what you’re asking for by putting a clue in the subject.  If you want a meeting, specify how much time you want.

Be concise: rarely should a reach-out email be more than 3 sentences.

Be appealing: give your target a reason to respond by offering value.  This means doing some homework, and hopefully coming up with a way to either make your target money or make his life easier.  If you can’t come up with ways to do either of those, there is still hope.  You can still offer some value by dropping the name of a mutual friend (allows him to strengthen friendship or curry favor). Or by mentioning where you met before (evokes membership and allows him to feel as though he’s benefiting organization). Or by simply offering a compliment about something he’s recently accomplished (ego is valuable too).  Or, just flat out ask for charity (people feel good about helping others).  But, find something that provides your target with some type of value, whether it benefits their wallet, their lifestyle, or their ego.

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