If you are in business at home, whether or not you also have a day job and the usual personal and family obligations, you have to learn how to say that you gotta run! That is because you likely do not have a lot of time on your hands to spare to small talk and chattering.
Be polite to everyone of course, and even spend some time ‘networking’ when it is a peer or prospective customer you are communicating with. Make arrangements to meet again or whatever is applicable. Make a note to follow-up because there is nothing more shallow than saying you will do something that you don’t do, particularly if someone might be waiting for you to do what you promised.
A built-in escape hatch would be to say something to the effect that if they don’t hear from you by a certain time, to feel free to contact you instead. This really has a nice touch in more ways than being out in front. It gives the person the impression that you are responsive – and a real person with concerns like theirs.
If you have a large list or membership you will likely get a ton of emails. Some will be in response to autoresponder messages and as such may have a low rate of a response from you which may or may not be understandable to people. In any case it may be a good idea to have a second email address that you know is a higher priority to respond back to such as where there has been a direct, personal communication to and/or from the member or prospect.
The real point here is to make time for people if you are running a business or are even just at the point of beginning to develop one; don’t be off in an ivory tower or somewhere chattering mindlessly. Be down in the trenches with the real people who may have issues that need your help to resolve or to understand.
Ever hear the expression ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’? The ‘gift horses’ in this scenario are your members and customers. If you want their continued support you need to pay attention to them and address their concerns. Tell your ‘buddies’ you gotta run!