“What you write is less important than who you send it to,” said Andrew Hennigan, who teaches workshops about email, in a discussion on Quora. “Even if your cold email were written by the world’s best writer it would still be deleted unread.”

Great, perfectly written and timed emails go unread all the time. Still, the Internet is still awash with advice of how to get people to respond to your emails. Let me save you some time. In a nutshell, all the advice says:

Keep it brief

If you’re just meeting someone for the first time whether in person, or online, keep it brief. Keep your introduction brief, your product pitch brief, your subject line brief, your email brief, and your request brief. It all boils down to the assumption that people don’t want to spend any time with you at all and the way you succeed is to take as little of their time as possible.

It’s not brevity that people need, but rather applicability and a reason to talk with you. It’s difficult to impossible to time communications when a person needs the information, and often we have no idea what they’re working on to be able to help them. We need to look to other tactics beyond “writing the perfect email” to improve communications response.

I’m far from an expert on this topic as every day I’m trying to figure out how to get people to respond to my requests. I’ve got plenty of sent emails that go unanswered. Regardless, I have learned a few techniques that do work.

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This morning my friend Matt posted a picture of his newborn baby. I hit the “Like” button, and I was done.

Facebook gave me an outlet to show my happiness for him, while clearing my conscience that I should do anything else. This friend-to-friend  interaction affords me the ability to show interest by simply clicking an icon.

I “Liked” my friend’s newborn baby picture. I didn’t bring over a ready-made dinner.

Prior to the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, we put in some effort to acknowledge a friend’s or colleague’s life event. We would call them on their birthdays, send a sympathy card when they lost someone, or put in a good word for them at the office. After our forthright expression we’d be thanked for our gesture and often without thinking we’d respond, “It’s the least I could do.”

At the time we didn’t realize how wrong we were.

There’s a lot less we can do.

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What My Wife and I Lost and Gained Running a Business Together

January 7, 2016
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On the ninth anniversary of Spark Media Solutions, I sat down with my wife, Joy, to discuss the pros and cons of spousal business ownership.

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Failure Rate of New Year’s Resolutions

December 29, 2015
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It’s shockingly high. If all your New Year’s resolutions fail, why do you think this one will succeed?

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Two Minutes of the Worst Mistakes You Can Make Moving to the Cloud

November 16, 2015
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Everyone who moves workloads to the cloud has dealt with problems. It’s a universal issue. The problems are numerous, but we cut them down into a nice two-minute package for you. Watch.

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What I’ve Learned Unsubscribing from Hundreds of Mailing Lists

November 12, 2015
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I’ve undergone a process to unsubscribe from all unnecessary mailing lists and I don’t know if it’s simplifying my life or making it more difficult. One thing though I’ve discovered is that there are plenty of annoyances involved in unsubscribing.

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My NEW BOOK to Crush it at Trade Shows: “Three Feet from Seven Figures”

October 19, 2015
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“Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows” is now available.

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Two Minutes of Tips on How to Speed Up Your IT Department

October 19, 2015
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While reporting for CloudPassage, I asked dozens of them at the 2015 AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas what they would do to speed up their IT department. I think I got some good advice. What do you think?

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Scholarly Advice on Which Shakespearean Character You Should Hire to Commit Murder

May 6, 2015
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At the 2015 Shakespeare Theater Association’s annual conference dinner, I asked the Shakespeare savvy audience which Shakespearean character would make the best hitman or hitwoman.

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RSA Conference 2015 in 5 Minutes and Our Complete Coverage

April 27, 2015
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After conducting more than 100 interviews, here’s a complete wrap up of all the coverage Spark Media Solutions produced at the RSA Conference 2015.

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