This is Day 11 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series
Previous post: The Pros and Cons of Listing Your Rates
Several months ago I ran a survey about working experiences with virtual assistants and had some great responses from three distinct groups:
- Small business owners who do not currently work with a virtual assistant but are interested
- Small business owners who have (or are currently) working with a virtual assistant
- Other virtual assistants who have a multi-VA firm or partnerships with other virtual assistants with complimentary services
Interestingly enough, despite the three distinct groups, there were recurring themes in the answers to the questions asked on the survey. One item in particular was repeatedly mentioned: Communication.
Most of us are literally drowning in emails, and poor communication can often make the email “back and forth” continue longer than is really necessary.
What was your first email account? Mine was AOL and I remember the excitement hearing the “You’ve Got Mail” notification. Not so much anymore. Email is no longer a novelty and in some ways it seems to be a “necessary” evil.
In a prior post we talked about email management and how it can literally make or break a virtual assistant’s business. Since our main communication with clients (and partners) will often be primarily email driven, what tiny tweaks can we implement in our emails for more effective communication?
14 Tips for Better Email Communication
- Write descriptive subject lines
- Write better action items
- How best-by dates make us more effective
- Think carefully before hitting “reply all”
- Be specific – Replace words such as this, that, it with what “it” is
- Thoroughly read before responding – Are you being asked a question? Answer it!
- Keep the thread intact (and try to avoid adding new, unrelated subjects into the thread)
- Confirm receipt/actions which will be taken (silence can indicate lack of receipt and can be incredibly unsettling to some)
- Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it
- Ask smart / clarifying questions
- Use white space and bullets for ease of reading
- Use an appropriate font type, color, and size (Be professional, not cutesy)
- Include appropriate contact information in your email signature
- Writing about times to meet? Be sure to include your time zone. (Better yet, use an appointment scheduling tool, such as TimeTrade)
Commit to trying some of these ideas for 30 days and see what happens. It may be almost imperceptible but it can and will make a difference. Want to take it even a step further? Combine the tips above with some of the tips suggested on the email management post.
What other changes would you suggest that aren’t listed above? Which do you already use that make a difference in your communications with clients and prospective clients?