Be accessible

by Jack Warren, editor

Believe me – I know just how difficult it can be to manage your email inbox. The average non-public individual receives a ton of email on a daily basis – the vast majority being the electronic equivalent to the stacks of ads that you used to receive in the mailbox on your front porch. So if you’re on the staff of a collegiate athletic program, chances are you’re receiving far more email than your non-athletics counterparts.

All that said, I’m here to tell you today to make yourself more accessible. Yes. More.

In your position, you are quite often the de facto Chief of Staff. What that means is that so much of what comes in through the outside, is funneled through you. Many people, from donors to alumni to parents to potential recruits look to you as an opportunity to be heard. Frankly, this can be a bit overwhelming. But it can also provide opportunity — for you and your organization.

Instead of just looking at the downside of accessibility, consider the positive benefits of making yourself available. Then figure out ways to make it manageable. Here are a few tips:

  • Consider setting up a real email address that gives the sender some hope of actually reaching you. Use some pre-formatted template replies to use for a great percentage of your emails that require just a simple response. Then find one brief 15-20 minute period each day to handle these select emails, leaving the emails that require research or more complex answers for the end.
  • Make yourself available on Twitter and publicize it. There is a reasonable expectation that you will not get to every Tweet that mentions you, but that you’ll occasionally acknowledge some of these publicly. You’d be surprised how much this will relieve email loads.
  • Don’t be afraid to give your phone number to someone with whom you’re at least moderately acquainted. Most will not abuse the privilege. You can block the abusers.
  • One caveat: Don’t let your inbox (and your text messages) dictate your schedule. Set aside a time each day that you’ve determined is a good time to respond to texts, emails, and Tweets. For one very well known college coach that I occasionally text, it’s 5:00 am each weekday morning. Stay in control of your schedule.

Operations personnel have a reputation for sharing, giving, and accessibility. This sets you apart. Don’t set up an electronic wall. Be accessible.

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