Fast Company did an interesting piece this morning that looks at how Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes uses canned email responses to gain an extra 30 minutes of productivity per day. And given that we’re mildly obsessed with the art and science of email, it elicited a few thoughts…

Holmes states that he uses canned emails to auto-respond to inbound requests such as speaking and sponsorship requests. If you try to picture his inbox, this seems like a smart strategy. And for the Ryan Holmes’ of the world (tech company CEO, social influencer, etc.), it undoubtedly works. But here’s the thing: we’re not all Ryan Holmes. 

For those in business development, marketing, PR—anything in which your job is to make things happen out of scratch—canned responses likely don’t fly. Imagine a biz devver at a fledgling startup. He or she is hustling, making connections, showing value and opportunity. Almost everything they do is outbound. But inbound does happen, usually via email. And inbound equals pre-qualified. Would you really want an auto response for an inbound query? Not only could it create an immediate hurdle, but it could also come across as smug: "Sorry bud, I get so much email I have to set up auto-responses for emails just like yours. Will get to it when I can." It goes back to the whole humble brag. On top of that, you have to wonder how much time (from the time saved) it takes to search for those emails that received auto-responses when you actually “have the time” to engage. 

Part of the blame also falls to the sender. If you’re organizing a new conference that has no street cred (i.e., you’re not Web Summit or SXSW) and you want Ryan Holmes to speak, is he even the right person to email? Probably not. Hate to say it, but he’s got people for that. Identify those people. (A quick search on LinkedIn turned up Sandy Pell, Hootsuite’s PR and Communications Manager. EMAIL HER FIRST! Part of her job might even be to vet inbound queries like these. And if you win her over, you’ve got a voice on the inside.) Bottom line, be a smarter sender.

For elite dudes like Ryan Holmes, who must get pestered with tons of trivial crap, auto-responses work. For the rest of us, tread carefully. Auto-responses can be the same thing as immediately slamming the door on someone when they knock.

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