reply, Reply All and bcc:

There is a difference between small ‘r’ reply and a big ‘R’ reply all. There seems to be a group that insists on the “me too”, “count me in”, “+1″  emails. This existed in grad school, it was particularly prevalent at Microsoft, and seems to continue. Maybe it is that I use 3 email address, the first I started using in 1994, the second in 2001 and the third in 2004. Email addresses 1 & 2 forward to email address 3. I get a lot of email. And the “count me in”, “+1″ behaviour adds zero signal to email conversations when used with the “Reply All”.

The other thing that has been driving me a little batty is the Introduction. I am trying to follow the advice of David Cohen and Fred Wilson, aka The Double Opt-In Introduction. On blind introductions, I try to ask each person to “opt-in” to the introduction to the other. This requires additional email, but it also requires that I separately compose an introduction email with relevant information (think LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, URLs, etc.), my reasons for why I think the connection is valuable to both parties, my expected action from the recipient, and an expected/requested timeframe for action. Once both parties have “opted in” I add both to the “To:” line of a message and include the previous information, my reasoning and the desired actions and timeframes.

(Okay, I don’t always do the double opt-in. I don’t do blind introductions. But there are situations where people ask for intros to friends, and if I know the friend has an open policy on these introductions I will do a bit of diligence and make the connection).

The breakdown that I’m seeing is post introduction. When the 2 parties reply to each other. They continue to reply to or include me on the cc: to the conversation thread. What I would like to see instead is the initial respondent move me to the BCC: line. This provides social proof that the individual has received and  acknowledged my request/introduction. But allows me to not participate in the ongoing conversation.

Reply to Introductions & BCC: the connector

What are other email tips?

  • http://startupcfo.ca/ Mark MacLeod

    I always get permission before making an intro unless its to a service provider looking for new work

    • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

      I should probably reset my baseline and force the double opt-in.

  • http://davidcrow.ca/ davidcrow

    Often times I will include as the first line of my response to an introduction that indicates the bcc: for example

    < moving @startupcfo:disqus to bcc: />

    And then continue with my message. Because, the goal isn’t to hid inclusion bcc: but to acknowledge the social action but hopefully eliminate that person from further participation in the email thread they might not have any desire to participate in.

  • http://yousayyeah.com Lee Dale

    Holy shit, now we need email etiquette flow charts!? If I were a peace and love terrorist I’d destroy all email accounts and protocols. Alas, I’m just a schmuck who can’t keep up with his inbox.

    But I’m pretty sure there’s no solution to be found that requires us to manually interfere where artificial intelligence should be working on our behalf – teach the software once, and you should be good; try to train your social circle and it’s a one way ticket to the madhouse.

    Also, if introductions (with all the link gathering you noted in your post) need to happen via email, there’s a product (that I guess isn’t LinkedIn) missing from the market.