Watch out for email threads

Q: How often do you have a back-and-forth email exchange with someone?

A: Probably almost every day! So consider my follow-up question:

Q: Do you ever end up forwarding the entire exchange of emails to a third party, hoping to get an answer to a question or to make an introduction, and never considering what was written along the way?

A: Well, don’t do it!  Here’s why:

I recently received an email introduction from an acquaintance who was suggesting I could help her friend. Not recognizing the name, I skimmed down the email to see if there was more information in the signature line. This led to me seeing that the message sent to me was at the head of a long string of emails that included some very  “candid” comments and not very positive descriptions of several other people—comments that should not have been shared (and should probably not have ever been emailed in the first place!).

We can draw a couple of real world lessons from this all-too-common event.

  1. Think once, twice, three times about what you write in an email! Anyone, even your close friends, can be careless or in a hurry and forward the information to the wrong person or (oh no!) hit “reply all” when they didn’t mean to.
  2. Mom was right: Never mail anything that you don’t want to see printed in the newspaper tomorrow, or as too many high profile and public figures have found out, on every social media site within minutes.
  3. If you want your network to grow and be strong, don’t say unkind things about other people. Period.

Email is certainly a boon to business and to networking, but always remember that it is a two-edged sword!


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