In December, I was doing some research into the influencer space. I reached out to a number of people who claim or appear to be influencers in tech.
I found three kinds of responses. One: people who responded and were interested in a conversation. Two: people who didn’t respond and simply ignored the outreach.
Three was a unique response, from someone who shall not be named. This person had an auto responder on his email stating, “I am on vacation for the next two weeks and when I return I will be deleting everything from my inbox and starting over. If your outreach is valuable, feel free to send me a new email after x date and I will determine if I am going to respond.”
This kind of response is obviously very genuine — he doesn’t want to spend the new year getting caught up on email and would rather move forward. I get that, and to some extent I even praise the sentiment.
That being said, I take issue with the way the auto response was worded. Anyone taking the time to send emails believes their email has some level of importance — and he questioned them in a condescending way, saying that he feels his time is more valuable than theirs. This may be genuine, but in a business environment I consider this incredibly rude.
What’s the right way to handle a situation such as this? How do you say you’re clearly trying to better manage things in the new year, while not being unkind in the ways you respond to people? I posted this question on LinkedIn and some people felt I was being harsh, while others agreed with me: If you put your name out there, and you make it easy for people to reach out to you, then it’s your responsibility to be willing to respond and engage back. If you want to start over, then pull down your email and make people work harder to get a hold of you!
These days there’s almost implicit permission for people to be rude to one another, and it bums me out. I’m hoping the year ahead provides a better environment where people are more willing to think before they speak.
This has to happen in interpersonal relations and I think it should also happen in business. I know I may not be perfect, but I do take the time to respond to the majority of emails I receive. I tend to ignore the ones that clearly had me on a list and are simply batch-blasting me and a hundred other people. Those automated outreaches tend not to come from a real person, so I don’t feel so bad about not responding. Much of the time, though, there’s a real person on the other end, who deserves a response just as much as anyone else.
I wonder if the influencer who wrote that auto-response is reading this column? Whether he knows it or not, he influenced me for sure: to be a better person by simply not emulating what he was doing. I guess something good can come from the unlikeliest of places!