Advice & News

May 20, 2021

Send These Five Weekly Emails to Advance Your Career


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If email wasn't already the primary method for workplace communication, the pandemic further heightened people's reliance on this type of asynchronous digital messaging. But even if you've since returned to on-campus work, there are still opportunities to send emails that will advance your career instead of simply maintaining your job.

Beyond the surfeit of daily work emails, an average of 126 messages sent or received according to one pre-pandemic study, here are five weekly emails you should send to "ping" your career growth.

Monday: Lifting Up a Stranger

The Monday Blues are real, and if you want to boost your mood while also expanding your network, try complimenting a stranger by sending a "cold email" with a warm, friendly greeting. Identify someone on your campus or in your discipline whose work you noticed and simply express your appreciation or commend them for an achievement. Check news releases on your university's website for ideas. Your positive vibes will stand out among the barrage of early-week requests that deplete their time and energy. You'll feel good, they'll feel good, and, who knows, this new "weak tie" can lead to future opportunities.

Tuesday: Checking Up on Campus Events

One of the perks of working in higher education is easy access to seminars, performances, sporting events, and other cultural experiences. If you want to work with more people on a college campus, you have to 'be somewhere' on a college campus other than your office or classroom. Break the chain of emails with an email that either invites someone to an in-person event or commits you to attending an event. "Buy tickets," as author Brendon Burchard recommends as a way to improve your mood, expand your social network, and spark creativity. Changing your environment, even if it's from one side of campus to another for an hour to listen to a speaker, can do wonders for your well-being and your career.

Wednesday: Bumping Up a Dormant Relationship

Research shows that it pays to reach out to long-lost professional colleagues. Think about someone you previously worked with or met at a conference and send them a note to tell them you are thinking of them. Ask how they're doing. Tell them how your interactions with them inform your current practice. Share a link to an article that reminds you about something you once discussed. Check in with people and don't be ashamed if too much time has elapsed. Sure, they might ignore you, but the reward is far greater than the risk of annoying someone with one of 100 or so daily messages they receive anyway.

Thursday: Summing Up Your Week for Your Boss

Even if your boss is not micromanaging you in such a way that you have to send weekly WAYWO (what are you working on?) emails, it's still a good practice to send your supervisor a weekly update. This is beneficial for them to be a better-informed manager, but also for you to have a record of your progress and gain the benefit of the doubt when it comes to budget increases or promotion. "They probably have no idea what you're doing with your time," wrote author Eric Barker in an article for The Observer. "They're busy. They have their own problems. For your boss, this let's them know what you've been up to without having to ask and saves them from wondering and worrying. They'll appreciate it and probably come to rely on it." And sending this email on a Thursday buys you an extra day in case your boss replies with a course correction before the end of the week.

Friday: Starting Up the Next Week

This is the one email you should send to yourself. That's right, before you shut down for the week (or the day if you don't have the luxury to ignore emails for a day or two), send yourself a note about what you plan to work on first thing Monday morning. Author Todd Henry has a saying for a similar approach: "End with the beginning in mind." "Many of us work until we run out of ideas, or until the clock says it's time to quit, and then close down and leave for the day," Henry wrote on his blog, The Accidental Creative. "In doing so, we are neglecting a simple two-minute exercise that could set the entire course for the next day." This removes the anxiety of opening the inbox on Monday morning. Your directive is to open the last unread message and work on your to-do list before you work on the rest of your inbox, which is the to-do list that everyone else has for you. And while you're at it, leave yourself a note of encouragement from your good-mood Friday self.

In Conclusion

Whether you are lifting up, checking up, bumping up, summing up, or starting up, these five emails might seem like more noise in the daily communication of your job. But they can have a cumulative effect in the upward trajectory of your career.

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