Random Inbound Email

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I process random inbound email and I thought I ought to share this with everyone. So here it goes.

I get a ton of unsolicited inbound email from people I don't know. If the mail is from a person, it generally gets into my priority inbox and I see it. I expect that I get between fifty and a hundred emails in my priority inbox every day that are unsolicited and from people I don't know.

I do not try to reply to all of these emails. If they are not replied to after three or four days, I archive them and get them out of my inbox.

But I do try to reply to at least ten of them every day. And on some days I reply to twenty or twenty five of them. It just depends on how much time I have for email each day.

My process for determining which of these emails I reply to is a bit random and I like it that way. I want to give every unsolicited email some chance of getting a response. But it is not totally random. Subject line matters. As does the content of the email. Brevity is better. A long email that goes on and on is a lot less likely to get a response from me. And, of course, the more relevant the email is to my life, the more likely it will get a reply. I do open a lot of email and then just archive it because it's not relevant.

I want to remain open to randomness. I believe there are great ideas and people out there who have no better way to get my attention than to spam me. So I open that kind of email and reply to it. But there is a seemingly endless supply of it out there and I can't and won't ever be able to reply to all of it.

There are many who suggest that I have an assistant or two reply for me. Or forward it to one of our analysts for a reply. My belief is that the person who sent me the email wants me to see it and getting a reply from an assistant or an analyst is not the desired outcome for them. So I don't do that and probably never will.

I hope this is useful to folks who are sending me email and expecting a reply. You may get it. You may not. That's how it is and I am OK with it.

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