If you can’t manage your inbox, why would I trust you to manage anything for me?

Maybe I am old fashioned and expect a different level of business etiquette or maybe it is a generational thing, but I have a pet peeve with people who don’t or can’t manage their Inbox. Folks, we are not talking about cutting edge technology here. My first email account was set up circa 1985.

In the latest case, a friend of mine, who is a CFO, introduced me to an Investment Banker who I am assuming wanted to expand his network in order to prospect for new clients. The CFO sent an e-mail introducing us in June. I responded immediately with a “nice to meet you” e-mail, which invited him to set up a time to chat by phone. I also sent him a LinkedIn invitation. The LinkedIn invitation was accepted but he never responded to my email.

In September, I received another email from the same CFO introducing me to the same I-Banker.  I didn’t immediately connect the dots that this was the second introduction until I checked LinkedIn and discovered that the I-banker and I were already connected. I generally don’t issue or accept a LinkedIn invitation until I have met someone or talked with them on the phone so I couldn’t figure out who this person was. I searched my email and discovered the introduction from June. I then dug further into my email and confirmed that he had never responded to my initial email.  I emailed my CFO friend and told him that he had already introduced us in June and that the I-Banker had never responded to my email.

Three weeks later, I received an email from the I-Banker apologizing, saying that he had dropped the ball and asking if we could arrange a time to speak the following week. As I scrolled through his email, I noticed a completely unrelated message at the bottom between my CFO friend and the I-Banker‘s partner. In this note, the CFO asked if they had ever connected with Pete Smith. The partner copied the I-Banker and relayed the question, to which the I-banker replied, “Who is Pete Smith?” The partner then imbedded the second introduction email and sent it back to the I-Banker. The I-Banker then forwarded me the entire email thread containing the earlier email conversations with the CFO and his partner and the email asking’ “Who is Pete Smith?” I politely responded that I was out of the country and asked if he could follow-up with me in a week.  He responded immediately that he would reach out again in a week.

I am assuming that the I-Banker wanted to be introduced so that he could pitch his company in case I ever need the services of an I-Banker. Given the evidence above, I am not sure what would ever inspire me to deal with this bozo. I am probably being unfair of his capabilities but he has already proven that he is unresponsive, appears out of control, is too busy to do anything other than react, and not thinking about what he is doing before he reacts (i.e. forwarding along email threads that are unrelated to the purpose of the email without checking their contents). Dealing with people like this scares the crap out of me.

What scares me as well is that this is not an isolated case, although a more extreme example. I consistently need to follow up with people once, twice or more before I get an email response. I would understand it if my emails were spam-type prospecting emails, but they are not and the people to whom I am emailing often know me or want me to do something for them.

In the game of life, I think half the battle in winning the game is just showing up. I put basic email etiquette and being able to manage your inbox in that category and I wonder why people don’t think more about the image they project when they are unresponsive, unorganized or just sloppy in how they communicate.    

The irony is that companies pay me to fly around the world teaching workshops on soft skills for consultants. When I received the I-Banker’s email, I was in Europe in the middle of one of these courses.  Maybe I should pitch his company on becoming a client?

And by the way, he never did remember to reach out to me a week later so we have still never spoken and likely never will.

© 2014 Meaford Group

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