Don’t Be Mrs. Unavailable
There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for an answer to your proposal or a reply to your email and not getting any. Complete silence. Not an “I’ll be getting back to you as soon as possible” or “Thank you for your email. I will contact you shortly with more details”.
You are just left there hanging in the air. Imagining that the responder is probably busy or the email landed in the Spam box and vanished in deep cyberspace.
Many times, when I don’t get an answer from a client or from a service provider, I tend to involuntarily find an excuse for the lack of response. Maybe my client is busy, didn’t see my email or even worse he is annoyed by my email and doesn’t care to reply. This is the wrong approach though.
Clarity comes with engagement not thought (Marie Forleo, Everything is Figureoutable).
The best way to go around this is to seek clarity and receive the answer you need whether or not it’s the one you are hoping for.
Here are a few examples of how to get clarity.
You sent a quote to a client and they never came back to you?
Send a kind reminder asking to see if they are still interested in your services. Sure, it can happen that you will never get a reply. Then you know it’s not the kind of cooperation you would want.
If a client sends an email asking for details for a service or product, acknowledge the receipt of the email and give a timeline for your response. Don’t just ignore it and turn into a possible client disillusionment. You could get a reputation for being Unavailable, always Unreachable. And nobody wants that.
Replying is courteous and professional.
Now here comes the good part.
There are several practical habits to avoid becoming Mrs. Unavailable or Mr. Unreachable.
DON’T IGNORE EMAILS
Reply to your sender even if you don’t have the exact answer to their request. This shows interest in the matter and openness to help to find a solution.
We are all busy. I get that. We all have tens or hundreds of emails waiting for a response. This is where your organizing skills come such in handy. Create email filters, folders, subfolders, star important emails, and color customize them. Gmail users have an amazing function available for them: the nudge function which can be activated on the account to remind you to reply and follow-up.
There is always help available on the market for those overwhelmed with managing inboxes. A virtual assistant can do wonders if things go crazy in your mailbox and daily planning. For example, a VA can help you by organizing your meetings and following up with important emails and much, much more.
DON’T SET FALSE EXPECTATIONS
Telling a client or coworker that you will get back to them tomorrow at noon and then forget about it is undesirable. It shows unprofessionalism and a lack of respect for the other person’s time and availability. Make only promises that you are 100% sure you can keep. Confirm the receipt of their email or message with a short reply and get back to them as soon as possible.
SET YOUR OUT OF OFFICE
Most commonly used email providers offer a very easily customizable option to set an out of office. If you know you will not be available for even a day and you estimate emails coming in, it’s only courteous to set an out of office. People will be aware of it and expect an answer upon your return.
It can be as simple as “Hey there, I will be out of office from September 2 to September 5. I will reply to your email as soon as possible upon my return. Thank you.” If you have a back-up colleague or co-worker insert their contact in the out of office “For urgent requests, please contact XXX at the following email address/ tel. number: XXXX”. It takes 5 minutes and your contacts will surely appreciate it.
SET YOUR AVAILABILITY CALENDAR
Planning your availability calendar is a good practice, especially for freelancers. You can inform your clients in due time of your availability for the following weeks/ months by sending a short email. This is particularly useful for the holiday season and it helps all parties to organize accordingly without impacting timelines. I have adopted this practice with my clients and they all appreciate knowing my availability calendar beforehand.
In a busy world with rush meetings and sometimes unrealistic timelines, it’s easy to become Mrs. Unavailable or Mr. Unreachable. Remember though – mutual respect and mindfulness are essential to building strong and long-lasting connections with your clients and service providers.
Out of passion for words and languages... You can find me translating, proofreading or copywriting marketing and communication materials for different sectors in English, French, Italian and Romanian. When not in front of my computer I am certainly following my passion for good books or my affinity for painting.