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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: email

Three Services to Help Manage Your Time

Dave Delaney

If you run a small business you know how difficult it can be to keep up. Heck, even if you run a large business or work for one, keeping up can be challenging. The following are three services I use to keep my head from spinning off my neck. Combined, they help me manage my email, calendar and time. They will help you, too.

How to manage your time

1. Outlook

Wow, Outlook has come a long way. This slick app from your friends at Microsoft is the best email app I have found. It has many bells and whistles, but the killer feature for me is the ability to schedule messages to return to my inbox later.

Let's say I get an email today from someone who doesn't need a reply until next week. I simply slide the message to the right to schedule it to return. The default options are: in a few hours; this evening; tomorrow morning; choose a time.

This helps me keep my sanity and my inbox manageable. We all forget to reply to messages from time to time. Outlook reminds me, which is crucial when running your own business.

You can download it for free from your favorite app store. Plus, it works with all email clients.

2. Sunrise

Sunrise is a mobile and desktop application that manages my calendar. When someone wants to have a meeting with me, I open the Sunrise app on my iPhone (available for Android too) and select several dates using their creative keyboard tool. It temporarily turns your keyboard into your calendar.

I simply tap onto several blocks of time in the calendar that I am available. This instantly creates a link that I can include in a text message or email reply.

The recipient clicks the link and is presented with the times I am available. They click the time that works for them, and it is magically booked. I get an email confirmation that the meeting has been set.

You can download this free app from www.sunrise.am

3. Calendly

I reserve chunks of time each week for my coaching clients and for informational coffee chats. I use Calendly to block these times on my calendar.

When you configure Calendly, you tell it when you are available. It syncs with your calendar, so if something else comes up, the time is no longer available. I have a couple of different Calendly calendars, so I send the correct link to my clients, so they can click it to see my calendar and to select a time that is most suitable for them.

When they book a time, I get an email notification. I then use Outlook to set that email to return to my inbox closer to our meeting time, so I can prepare and be ready for our call or coffee.

While Sunrise is better for on-the-fly scheduling, Calendly syncs with my calendar to show people when I am available on certain days. All I need to do is send them the specific link to my calendar and they can go ahead and book what works best for them.

You can set up your account at Calendly.com.

These three services help keep my busy life sane. The more time I save, the more I can focus it on serving my clients and preparing for new speaking engagements. I hope these help you, too.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper. Photo by By Rodion Kutsaev from Unsplash.

Stop Blasting People

Dave Delaney

We need to send an email blast to try to sell more of these widgets. Let's blast them now!

It irks me every time I hear a marketer refer to blasting their customers. I picture a violent scene from a movie, as the hero or villain shotgun blasts their way out of a jam. Shotguns are made to create as much damage as possible. You don't want to damage your email subscribers, right?

I looked up blast to see some definitions and here's what I found...

Definitions of "blast"

a destructive wave of highly compressed air spreading outward from an explosion: they were thrown backward by the blast.

• an explosion or explosive firing, especially of a bomb: a bomb blast | a shotgun blast.

• a forceful attack or assault: he defeated his weakest opponent in such a blast that the fans left unimpressed.

a strong gust of wind or air: the icy blast hit them.

• a strong current of air used in smelting.

a single loud note of a horn, whistle, or other noisemaking device: a blast of the ship's siren.

Does any of this blasting sound enjoyable?

Let's stop blasting the people who are kind enough to subscribe to our email newsletters. Instead, call it "sending them an email newsletter". An email newsletter sounds kind and carefully considered. A blast sounds likes a coupon, something spammy, or worse, an actual shotgun being fired. 

How I'm Dealing With Email

Dave Delaney

My head has been spinning lately. I’ve been working my tail off, but often feel like I’m chasing it. I realize that social media and email can leave you feeling overwhelmed... it leaves me overwhelmed too. I've decided to spend the next couple of weeks retooling. I want to share my plan with you here. Are you in?

First up is email. It's a big distraction and cause of stress when I know my inbox is overflowing.

Here's my plan...

Try this for yourself and let me know how it goes.

‌• Check and reply to email twice a day on desktop. Once from 8 - 8:30 am and once from 5 - 5:30 pm. Go to bed each night knowing my email is in good shape. Dream of inbox Zzzzero.

‌• Use Contactually as my first stop to email people, so I can track my interactions better, keep in touch, and close more sales (my family needs to eat). There's a free trial here, I'm also an affiliate.

‌• Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe or create digests of the newsletters I have subscribed to (or have been subscribed to… I’m talking to you spammers).

‌• Check my email on mobile occasionally throughout the day when I am away from my office.

‌• Turn off (almost) all notifications on my iPhone. I kept some weather alerts, Sunrise calendar reminders, Phone, Waze for traffic alerts, and WhatsApp and Skype for calls from my family.

‌• Switch my phone to Do Not Disturb mode when I am replying to emails on my desktop. I will only receive calls from Heather or my parents during these times.

‌• Use Baydin's Boomerang to schedule emails to return to my inbox to remind me when a person hasn't replied. It's perfect for following up on proposals.

So this is my email plan moving forward. I hope it inspires you to get a better grasp on your inbox too. I'll be sharing my plans for social networks in upcoming messages first with my email newsletter subscribers.

What tips do you have for handling an unruly inbox? Leave a comment with your favorites please.

Two Email Secret Weapons You're Missing

Dave Delaney

keyboardI've written here before about how to manage your email. The truth is that it's an on-going battle for most of us (myself included). I have recently tried two different services that have impressed me. One service keeps my email inbox organized by only sending me the important stuff, and the other helps me keep track of my contacts.

SaneBox

SaneBox prioritizes important emails and summarizes the rest. It does this by adding a folder to your email called SaneLater. It then determines the importance of each email based on your past interactions. It moves unimportant messages out of your Inbox and into a the SaneLater folder. Then it sends you a digest email so you can tend to the less important email later.

Check this out.

Contactually

Contactually is a web-based CRM tool that will help maximize your network ROI, get more referrals and gain more repeat business. Sounds good, right?

I love it, because you can create groups of contacts (called buckets). You can then choose how often you want to hear from those buckets. For example, business opportunities are on the top of my list. Here's a short video to show you how it works.

I'm an affiliate of both of these services, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase either service. I wouldn't share them with you if I didn't think they were awesome. They both have free demos you can set up to try and see if you like them. I think you will.

Let me know what you think of SaneBox and Contactually in the comments. Are there alternatives you're using to manage your email and relationships?

Essential Email Hacks for the Holidays

Dave Delaney

Photo by marcopolis  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are anything like me, your email inbox tends to overflow this time of year. Retailers are sending you their seasonal offers, and spammers are doing the same. Your friends and family are sending you seasonal messages of merriment, your work projects are wrapping up, and you are busy preparing for business in the first quarter of next year. Your overflowing inbox probably has you feeling just a tad overwhelmed or perhaps as sour as the Grinch himself. That's no way to feel at this festive time of the year.

A 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp. found that more than a quarter of the average worker's day is spent on email. Let's take a moment to explore some ways to regain control of your inbox. Do this now to put the "Happy" back into "Happy Holidays."

Email Hacks for the Holidays (and beyond)

The Email Game allows Gmail and Google email users to have some fun. Using the Email Game, you race against the clock to deal with your unruly inbox. By replying, archiving, and deleting messages, you turn your animated indifferent face to a big smiling happy face. You can also share your inbox annihilation scores on Twitter and Facebook.

Boomerang brings scheduling emails and follow-ups to your Gmail or Outlook inboxes. I love, love, love this amazing tool. When I have a new potential client contact me for consulting work or to schedule a speaking engagement, I always use Boomerang when I reply. By doing this, I can make the email reappear in my inbox at a certain time and date if they have not replied yet. This helps keep me organized and prepared to follow up if I haven't heard back. Boomerang also allows you to send a message later at a certain time and date in the future.

Unroll.me works on just about every popular email service. After setting this up, you will be provided with a long (sometimes frighteningly long) list of the email newsletters you are subscribed to. You can simply unsubscribe from the emails you no longer want, this includes those countless Facebook and Twitter notification messages. This doesn't take long and will end up saving you time and help you manage your inbox.

Gmail users need to take advantage of the many helpful tools in the Labs section. Click Settings in your email and scroll across to Gmail Labs. Here are a couple of my favorites to help manage my inbox.

Canned Responses: If you find you're writing the same thing quite often, you can create a canned response. A quick click of the button, and your emails will be automatically composed with the pre-written message.

Undo Send: Admit it, you have hit the Send button and suddenly noticed an embarrassing typo. Enabling Undo Send gives you a few extra seconds to retract your message after you have sent it. This is a lifesaver, especially when you have sent a message using an incorrect name (which I may or may not have done - once, okay twice.)

There are also mobile applications to help you manage your inbox when you are out and about this holiday season. One of my favorites is Mailbox for iPhone/iPad/Gmail. This handy app allows you to make the message disappear and reappear at a later date and time. Considering rescheduling those work-related emails that appear while you're enjoying your holidays with your family.

Finally, I asked my Twitter followers, "What are you using to tame your inbox?" and their replies were priceless:

How do you manage your inbox, especially as it begins to overflow during the holidays? Leave a comment with your best tip please.

Photo from Flickr by marcopolis.


The article, Take control of an overflowing email inbox, originally appeared in the Tennessean.

Persistence Gets You Everywhere

Dave Delaney

Tristan WalkerA little over two years ago, Tristan Walker, a soon-to-be second year Stanford Business School student, had an idea. He wanted to get a job working for the popular location based service, foursquare. He took a gamble and decided to write an email directly to the founders, Dens Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. It took Tristan eight emails before Dens offered to meet him in New York. Tristan lied and said that he would be in NYC the next day, but he actually had to book a flight from Los Angeles to be there for the meeting.

a lot of folks ask me how Ive been able to secure some pretty cool spots at awesome companies and my answer is always the same. “be so enamored with the product that you would work for the company even if they didnt hire you….more importantly find where the needs are within the organization and be willing to do whatever it takes to help them fill the need (work for free even!)…and MOST importantly make sure that youre filling a need that the organization doesnt have the resources to fill on its own. If a company is not willing to let a hungry, passionate, smart, unpaid advocate of the product help the organization to fill that need (when it doesnt have the resources to do it itself) then you probably shouldnt be working at the company anyway. They’re just being arrogant”…Dennis and Naveen made pretty clear that their passion was with product (and theyre the best in the world at it). I knew i could help them (without much guidance and hand holding) to think through the business opportunities / potential for foursquare. And i did it for free (for 30 days at least :)). I gained their trust, which was most important. The past two years for me have been nothing short of amazing. Dennis/Naveen didnt have to but they gave me a shot and really did change my life. I owe those guys a ton and im truly appreciative of it all. Now, back to work…. :)

Tristan became Business Development VP for foursquare. He proved that persistence can get you very far. You can find his original email to the foursquare founders on his blog. It's a fun a read.

Do you know anyone who got a job from not giving up?

Photo from LinkedIn