The first learning curve I faced when starting my online business was how to communicate with my clients through emails. I always had jobs that were face-to-face. Transforming body language, facial expressions and tone of voice into an email was a whole new ballgame.
Over the years, here is what I learned works for me:
1. NEVER SEND/CHECK EMAILS AFTER HOURS
Nothing looks more unprofessional than receiving an email from an expert at midnight. Think about it, have you ever received an email from J.Crew at midnight? No. And that's because everyone has gone home and to their personal life. And as for checking your email at midnight, I am guilty and never happy when I get an email from a client who needs more revisions on a project that has revised for the last time. It's stressful and will keep you up at night reading emails like that. My personal goal is to leave my phone outside of my bedroom so I am not tempted to check email before bed or when I wake.
2. CONSISTENTLY & PROPERLY PUNCTUATE
I'm not a smiley face kind of gal, but every once in a while a smiley face is the only way I can show how happy I am to others. I have also learned to be mindful of punctuation marks from start to finish. Back when I was learning how to send email aka communicate with clients, I asked Emily (during a 3 in 30 session) what she thought of all of this. She offered a tip that stuck: be consistent with punctuation. For example, if a client contacts me and I am full of exclamation points and smiley faces - then when we get to thick of the project and I am only sending brief responses with little-to-no punctuation, then my client can interpret that in the wrong way.
3. RESPOND WITHIN 24-48 HOURS
A good rule of thumb is to respond to emails within 24-48 hours or sooner. If you can't get to the message right away, mark it as unread or somehow distinguish that you need to respond to the email. That way email don't fall through the cracks.
4. HAVE YOUR RESPONSE READY
Of course every email calls for a personalized message, questions answered, etc. Once you have the custom part of the message done, copy and paste or attach a pdf of your packages/info into the email. That way you don't have to rewrite the same copy over and over again and you can respond more efficiently. I save my rates in my notes app on my computer that way if I am traveling I can copy and paste it from my phone too.
5. DON'T OVER DO IT
Have you ever received an email that contained a "signature" bigger than the email itself? It's distracting, unprofessional and overdone. It's like getting spam within an email that you want to erase asap. At the very bottom of every email I send is a personalized signature which includes my logo and information. It's small, tactful and professional. Keep it simple, small and easy to read, that way your message isn't immediately deleted once opened.
6. A CLEAN INBOX
An ever-growing inbox stresses me out. Folders are your friend. I have over a dozen different folder categories in my gmail from receipts to music shows to business tips. If you can't read the latest newsletter, save it in a folder for future reading. This also makes it easy when you need to print out receipts for taxes.
After I have received an inquiry and responded with my rates and info, I leave the message in my inbox for 1 week. After that week I send a followup email then archive it. If they respond, great, if they don't no more emails will be sent. It's a way of showing you care which can be just enough to close a sale.
Many of us have dreams or ideas of accomplishing big things, creating amazing art, speaking or performing in front of thousands of people, making loads of money, traveling across the world – better yet changing the world – but we have no idea how to make it happen. “A goal is a dream with a deadline” Napoleon Hill once said - meaning until we put our dreams onto paper, well, they’re just dreams.
So let’s talk about dreams for a moment. When I say dream, I mean a daydream – “a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake” as Wikipedia defines it.
Here are a few goal-setting tips that have dramatically helped me:
- Write it down - Before you begin your day write down your daily goals. I like to break mine up into home and work goals (shown below)
- Estimate - Take a guess as to how long each goal will take, then jot it down. Bonus: Once I do this, then I total my home goals and my work goals together, that way I know how long I’ll be working and what time I will be done with work.
- Prioritize - After each goal os written down with the duration of how long it will take, I then prioritize each one with theABCDE Method.
- Accomplish – One by one, I cross off each goal as I accomplish it. This is so satisfying that I make sure to write downeverything I have to accomplish just so I can have that satisfaction of crossing it off. My ideal day is when I accomplish everything on my list and have time to spare – which I’m working on goal by goal, day by day.
The ABCDE Method: Check out the picture of one of my goal sheets filled in (below). You will notice each goal is prioritized with a letter and a small number beside it. This method is called the ABCDE Method, an amazing and helpful method I learned from the book Focal Point by Brian Tracy. This method prioritizes your goals with letters than numbers.
- An “A” task is something that is important and you must do no matter what. The number after the letter signifies which important task you must complete first. For example, when I wake up the very first thing I do is eat breakfast. Therefore this is my first priority or “A1″.
- A “B” task is something you should do. There are consequences if you do not get this task done, but they are not as important as “A” tasks.
- A “C” task is something you would like to do, but there are no consequences if you can’t get to it today.
Whether you’re looking to organize your thoughts and goals, launch a new business or grow your current business, it all starts with a dream. So enjoy the daydreaming process – it’s a beautiful thing, but once you’re done write those dreams and ideas down, prioritize them, estimate the duration then accomplish them. Click here to download this free goal-sheet to help you organize your dreams and make them into goals.
My latest big goal is to launch my new business next week, what goals have you been reaching for lately?