You may want to think twice before you send that next email out. We all face an ongoing battle with our email inbox. While there are countless systems for getting down to inbox zero, success is ever so fleeting and the next day you are back at it again. It’s become part of the daily grind and the worst thing is that we’re all frequently causing pain for the person on the receiving end. So what does any of this have to do with Whuffie and what the hell does Whuffie mean?
Whuffie is a term coined by Tara Hunt who recently published the book, “The Whuffie Factor“. The term directly refers to social capital, something I’ll be discussing increasingly on this site. Anyways, I pre-ordered the book months ago and began flipping through it yesterday afternoon during a moment of deep thought. The book describes how you can use social technology to build your “Whuffie Factor”, or social capital, something I’ll be increasingly discussing on this site.
As I flipped through the book, I stumbled across a table on page 158 which outlines the various type of deposits and withdrawals that can be made to what I would call your “Whuffie Account”. It’s a measure of how much you give to a community (and your network) and how much you take away. It has been proven countless times that if you end up giving more to your network, you receive much more in return.
Whuffie For Email
The concept of Whuffie and social capital has been in my mind for a while now and today during the DC Tech Cocktail event the concept of the email whuffie factor popped into my head. Every day I wake up and loathe the battle that will be fought between me and my inbox. I’ll send a message out and immediately receive on in return. Some people would say that I should be grateful for so many inquiries but at a certain point it become completely ineffective.
Yes, with more effective planning (and possibly with the help of Away Find) I could potentially manage things better but the bottom line is that we all face the battle. When you are building your network, you must consider what impact each of your interactions with others has on that individual. If you know someone is getting two thousand emails a day, the last thing you want to do is overload them with more stuff to do.
What I realized during my “aha” moment was that the same sort of relationship that we have in building communities online takes place every day in our inbox. Whether it’s the favors from others that we ask (as Tara Hunt references in her book) or whether simply the structure of the email. This form of communication requires effort on the recipient’s end and taking a few moments to consider how to structure that message is extremely important.
As a result of this moment I decide that I would put forth five factors that will help increase your “email whuffie factor.” Please feel free to add more to the comments and I’ll be happy to add them to this list.
1. Create An Effective Subject Line
“No Subject” is the worst thing that can ever show up in somebody’s email inbox. You are pretty much saying that you don’t care enough to write the subject. There’s a reason that emails contain a subject line: for you to use them. Get the person’s attention and let them know that you care. You can say a whole lot in just a few words. If you don’t put in a subject you might as well assume that you aren’t getting a response.
2. Be Short And Sweet
It’s ironic that I’m saying this because all too often I get caught up in writing lengthy emails to explain something that could have been written in 5 sentences. With hundreds of emails in our inboxes, a short email that gets to the point is seriously a breath of fresh air. There’s not really much else to say about that!
3. Don’t Ask Permission For A Follow-up
You’ll never believe how many emails I receive from people that ask for permission to send me information about their product. I hope I don’t sound like an asshole saying that asking for permission to tell somebody something is pretty much asking to hear the word “No”. Actually you won’t even hear that because the person will delete your email right away.
4. Fill Their Inbox With Love
There wouldn’t be any whuffie without a little bit of love. When was the last time that someone sent you an email which said “I just wanted to let you know that you are producing amazing things. Keep up the great work and no need to reply as I just wanted to let you know to keep up the great work!” It’s an email that no person will ever dislike no matter how cluttered their inbox is.
One of the most important components of these emails is that you don’t require a response from the person. All you are doing is providing some love. Nobody will ever say no to that!
5. Win Friends And Influence People With Email Whuffie
I figured that it would be best to boil all of Dale Carnegie’s secret tricks down into one single rule. Consider his tips when you are sending out your email. His words of advice are timeless for any individual looking to increase their social capital. Follow his rules and apply them to your email strategies and you will most definitely continue to thrive in the digital world.
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about increasing email whuffie. These were just a few ideas to get started but at the end of the day, those few extra steps can go a very long way. Also thanks to Tara Hunt for producing an inspiring book which happened to arrive on my doorstep at the right time.