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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Opportunity Knocks, Answer the Door

Like everyone I receive many attachments without an explanation.  They show up in my e-box with no accompanying note of explanation.  When that happens (and it frequently happens with business people) I always think:  'You're missing an opportunity to make a sale.'

Maybe you think you're aren't selling something, but I think most e-mails sell something in the workplace:  credibility is one.  Establishing and building your credibility translates into your being memorable and easy to work with.  When people don't find your documents/correspondence confusing, they may not say, "Well done!" but they do register that inner exhale of:  'That was easy.'   That's especially important if you are always thinking ahead to how you can earn your next promotion or your next raise.  Don't let people forget you, and they will be more likely to if you don't provide a cover note that explains the attachments you are sending along.

Here are five good reasons to add a cover note to any document you forward whether through e-mail or snail mail:

1.  It's polite.
2.  Your reader will be more likely to open it.  Many people don't open attachments if they don't recognize the name of the sender, and sometimes people don't remember names.
3.  You help orient the reader to what he/she is about to open.  It could sound like this:  Here's that report you asked for...... Not only do you help orient the reader, you help steer the reader to interpret the contents of your attachment in the way you want it to be understood.
4.   You can offer to answer any questions that might arise after your reader has opened and read the document.
5.  You could express gratitude for the reader being interested in reading your attachment, especially if it is a resume or a proposal for a change at work.  This single sentence can open the door for you to follow up on this e-mail.  Sometimes you need to follow up:  to remind them of who you are and that you will do what you say you will do.

Following through goes a long way in the workplace.  A good example of this is simply writing a cover note that explains the purpose for the attachment being sent.  When you have a blank screen in front of you, recognize it for what it is:  an opportunity to remind the reader that you are a hard working person who is polite and respects others' needs to know and fulfills them by providing useful information in a timely way.


  1. I completely agree! Also - when you are trying to prioritize work, opening a large attachment that isn't urgent or priority eats up precious time. I like to flag my "to dos" and drop them into seperate files of orginization at my discretion. I do NOT appreciate spending 5 minutes browsing an attachment that I find out is something I will be working on in my down
    time. -Hillary Kervin

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