If you have a business at home, whether or not you also have a day job or/and the usual personal and family obligations, then you’ll have to learn how to say you’ve “got to run”! People will learn that you say this because you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to spare to make small talk and chat.
Please be polite to everyone of course, and even spend some time ‘networking’ when it is a peer or a prospective customer you are communicating with. Try to make arrangements to meet again or whatever is applicable. Make a note to follow-up because there is nothing more annoying than saying you will do something and then not doing it, particularly if someone might be waiting for you to do what you promised. It will be seen as not professional and your reputation will soon go down in peoples estimations.
A way around all this 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 and shows that you have some flexibility in the way you communicate. It gives the person the impression that you are responsive, a real person, and that you have concerns like theirs.
If you have a large list or membership you will more than likely get a heap of emails to deal with. Some of these emails 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 attempting to communicate with you. In any case it may well be a good idea to have a second email address that you know is a higher priority to respond back to, for example, where there has been a direct, personal communication to and/or from the member or prospect.
The point I’m trying to make 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. Attempt to be reachable in a timely manner, be down in the trenches with the real people who may have issues that need your help to resolve or to understand.
Have you ever heard the expression ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’? The ‘gift horse’ 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. So tell your ‘buddies’ you gotta run!