How can Responsiveness help your Professional Reputation?

Adam Boettiger takes the bus to work, and recently overheard the following:

“You know, Bob really doesn’t do email well. You really should use the phone to reach him.”

Robert Scoble‘s wife Maryam likes Scott Guthrie, a General Manager at Microsoft, just because:

“He always answers his email.”

Getting such a busy person to respond consistently, reflects just as much on Maryam Scoble’s email writing skills, so I would hazard a guess that Scott thinks highly of her too.

If people’s opinion of you were based solely on your email responsiveness, can you imagine what they would think of you?

This works both ways, as the above examples show. It’s so easy to be responsive, and if you don’t have time to deal with an issue, be honest about it — to yourself and the other party.

Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, makes the following connection between responsiveness and responsibility (literally: one’s ability to respond):

As I was making my way to the top, my former boss, Sam Moore, used to ask everyone I worked with, “What’s it like to work with Mike?” “How’s he really doing?” “Do you think he could take on more responsibility?” In responding to him, all they had was their experience with me. If I hadn’t been responsive to them, how do you think they would have responded to his questions? “More responsibility? Are you kidding me? He can’t handle what he has now!” It wouldn’t take too many candid responses like that to tank my career.

Yesterday, I sent an email to someone who I don’t know, trying to interest him in my email productivity products and in exchanging ideas. He wrote back to me within a few hours, and his very brief response says a lot:

Hi Itzy — I’m very interested in your product […] but right now I’m swamped. I may not get around to getting back to you until this weekend.

This fellow is probably busier than most of my overloaded correspondents, but his message says to me:

  • Although I’m extremely busy, I am still in control of the situation.
  • I have integrity and self-honesty — I don’t fool myself into making commitments I cannot keep.
  • I still have time to be cordial and polite, even to people who can’t help me with my current workload.

Was this just a nice way to blow me off? I don’t think so.

Related article: How (not) to provoke a response from someone who gets loads of email

18 responses to “How can Responsiveness help your Professional Reputation?

  1. This sounds like how I’ve been responding lately. I’m getting 200 to 600 emails a day. Not dealing well with them, but do try to keep up. Still haven’t gotten to your message yet either, sorry…

  2. Interesting article Itzy. I think that a response, ANY response other than an auto-responder, shows you care about things. If you’re too busy to respond, then don’t share your e-mail address, or set up an auto-responder that says you’re too busy. Set the expectation correctly, and rational people will understand.

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  4. Pingback: Your Responsiveness on Email helps your Professional Reputation -

  5. the more i think about this, the more it makes sense. this is one area that i’ve been neglecting for too long and need to prep up.

    great article.


  6. We’ve been talking about customer service a lot recently in our small marketing/design shop. I do like your prospect’s approach. It shows “i got it”, “i’m interested”, and “i am respectful enough to acknowledge you”. I’m interested to see if you do turn him from prospect to client. Unfortunately, email is a bad relationship mgmt tool. It’s very difficult to convey the appropriate emotion, urgency, and tone with email. But it’s critical keeping touch w/ customers – just don’t rely too heavily on it for building the relationship. Face to face is better than phone is better than email is better SMS/etc…

  7. I think the same can be said for IM too. If you’re always on, people notice.

  8. Pingback: Kevin Wong &raquo Productivity | Consumer Electronics | Myself » Blog Archive » The Professional: Email Overload

  9. Pingback: Do You Suffer From Email Overload ? » Simplenomics

  10. 200 to 600 email messages a day, Robert? How do you possibly MANAGE?

    I think there becomes a point where you have to say “I receive more mail than any one human with interests outside of virtual can manage. I am placing my email address out there but cannot guarantee response.”

    …especially for someone like you who has an alternative venue for the posting of unsolicited messages.

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  12. What an interesting coincidence…I just started posting on my blog about how I deal with e-mail overload. It’s based on GTD and other time management principles and has been quite effective for me personally.

  13. Pingback: » Email responsiveness and your perceived competence

  14. Pingback: Email Overloaded » Blog Archive » How to reply to all email messages within 24 hours, consistently

  15. Pingback: andy’s uberblog » Blog Archive » Traffic problems on the information highway? part two

  16. Our experience is quick responses increase sales dramatically.

  17. Pingback: Customer Service via Email at Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

  18. Responsiveness is order of the day. For yes or no there should be a response from the receiver, otherwise the sender will be in dark. Responsiveness shows the responsibility, enthusiasm, interest etc….Provoking responsiveness in all kinds of individuals is something which needs to be studied upon.

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