Tuesday, September 13, 2005
A good e-mail shows thought, demonstrates that the author has actually read this blog and comprehended it, and exhibits a certain level of effort that says they have a serious question and are not just asking because it’s easy. In other words, they respect my time and theirs. Additionally, they ask a question that I am actually qualified to answer. Just today I got a nice e-mail stating that the author was considering applying to much the same schools as me, and wanted to know if I have ever regretted my decision to attend HBS. Of course, they only asked that question after telling me about their background and indicating why they thought my opinion would be relevant to them, in the process demonstrating knowledge of me via the blog. Kudos to them, they got an immediate reply.
Probably 80% of the e-mails I get show none of the above. Many times they scarcely mention the blog, write a 3 line e-mail that’s basically all question, and ask me things that I really have no idea how to answer in a meaningful way. Things like whether with their GMAT, GPA, and work experience they can get into HBS. Or if Admissions Consultants are any good and if they should use one. You get the idea.
There is another category of bad questions, and those are the ones that pry for personal details. I’ve had questions about my GMAT, my GPA, requests for my essays, etc. A few things: 1) None of that information is at all relevant to your application process. 2) If I was going to share it don’t you think I would have done it by now? 3) How on earth can someone justify to themselves asking personal details about someone they don’t even know? Anyway, just don’t ask, your e-mail will be deleted immediately.
Last week at TGIF I ran into a former e-mailer who had asked a good question about living accommodations for him and his wife. It was nice to hear that things worked out, and I was also pleased that he stills reads the blog when he has time. I like taking time to help people (the #2 reason this blog has survived), but only when they clearly respect my time and theirs.