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Five tips for spicing up your out of office email message

By HGB , Apr 21 2017
Bing! You’ve sent an email and received an instant reply, “I’m out of the office returning 5 April 2017.” You promptly delete it, and that’s the end of that.

Would you do that to someone on the phone? “Hi Richard… I’m out of the office… talk on the 5th.”

Our communication with clients, suppliers and staff increasingly takes place over email. But in doing so, we remove the chance to build relationships via two-way communication, which the old-school phone enables us to do.

So how can we build relationships via a one-way communication channel? Creating interesting and engaging out of office replies is one way to give people a glimpse of the person behind the email, and an insight into you and your life. This helps to build more meaningful relationships.

I have three boys, one who hasn’t yet started school. Every Friday I’m at home with Leo and often my nephew Zebediah too. I thought it was really important to let my emailers know what I was up to, so they knew why I couldn’t reply straight away.

“I’m out of the office now for the weekend. I’m planning on going to Mainly Music with Leo and Zebediah and hoping we all can have a lunchtime nap.”

It also helps create a great talking point when we do connect. It was common for a phone conversation early in the week to touch on the material from my out of office email reply.

“Well, this old lady qualified for the New Zealand Nationals for CrossFit. They are taking place this Saturday and Sunday at Mystery Creek. I’ll be out of the office on Monday recovering (eat, sleep, eat, etc) but back on Tuesday.”

I’ve kept a record of all my out of office email replies over the past year. Here are some more examples, and some tips I thought I’d share with you.

1. TALK LIKE a human

Use language you would use in real life. Do you say “currently unavailable”, or “intermittent access to emails” in day to day conversation? Use language that you naturally use when talking to people face to face.

“Hi there, my week has finished and I’ll be back in the office on Monday. Enjoy your weekend and go the All Blacks!”

2. Let people know what you are up to

Usually we take time off to do something interesting or something we’re passionate about. Sharing this is a great way of letting people know what you’re about.

“Hello, lucky for me I have another weekend of CrossFit with Kotahi Tribal Wars starting Friday night and continuing on Saturday. I’m in a team of four this time – go Taurus!”

“Hi there, school interviews tonight, swimming and music with the toddlers tomorrow and then a hen’s do in Auckland on Saturday. Hope you too have a great weekend planned. I will be in touch on Monday.”

3. Create talking points

Doing something exciting while you’re out of the office? Including this in your out of office can create an interesting talking point when you get back.

“The week has disappeared once again. My husband is in the South Island racing in the Burt Munro Challenge, so I’m flying solo!”

4. Use your company’s values

We embed the HGB values think, feel, do as much as we can. I decided to include them in my final out of office for 2016.

“THINK the end of the year has arrived. FEEL like the end of the year has arrived. DO need a holiday!”

5. Build your company’s brand

Are you visiting clients in another city, on a film shoot, or going to an interesting conference? Share this information in your out of office as a way of building your company’s brand

“Mid-week trip to Wellington, visiting the team at The Great War Exhibition. Don’t think we’ll bump into Sir Peter Jackson… but you never know!”

“My final out of office from 16a Vialou Street. When I respond to you on Monday, it will be from HGB’s new headquarters on Anglesea Street. You will have to pop by and visit!”

Have fun with your out of office messages. Use them to communicate your personality and build meaningful relationships.

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