When sending an email think about the other person receiving it. Your email will be competing with possibly HUNDREDS of incoming emails. Even on a slow day, I’d still receive more than 50 emails. To make effective use of my time, I’d classify each incoming as “A-A, A, B-B, B, C-C, C”.  The double “A”s got top billing and priority responses, of course. The single “C”s went to the bottom of the priority list and were handled on an “as time MIGHT allow” basis. “D”s didn’t make the priority list and went straight into the electronic garbage bin.

  1. A, B, C by “PYRAMID OF INFLUENCE”:  Obviously, an “A” goes to the emails from anyone above me/you in the corporate pyramid and from stakeholders inside or outside the firm who likely have a big impact on business or career paths. This implies that if you are the hard worker located at the bottom of the pyramid, then almost all of management above you gets an automatic “A”. On the other hand, if you are the President you’ll likely have a much tighter “pyramid of influence”: CEO, members of the board, legal department, tax department, presidents of other subsidiaries or companies, Senators and other top level-politicians, etc.
  2. A, B, C by SUBJECT LINE: The hierarchy approach doesn’t always cover urgent matters. So, it is important for the recipient to scan the subject line. Executive Assistants often handle most of the incoming for their executives so lean heavily on coherent, comprehensible, informative subject lines. Do them and yourself a favor by making your subject line meaningful.

The subject line has the power to make or break your ranking on the recipients’ handling-priority list.

Does your SUBJECT LINE convey the golden nugget of the contents of the body of your email? Is there sufficient information in the subject lineto enable the recipient to prioritize your email? If the matter is urgent to you, will it cause the recipient to appreciate your urgency and take prompt action on it?  Will your subject line resonate with the recipient? Is your subject line too wordy?

STRESS TEST your email subject line before hitting send. You will do the recipient a favor and you will be protecting your own vital interests.