George H. W. Bush was renowned for hand writing short notes to folks he met, from the powerful to the less so. What skills the senior Bush had as a diplomat, and his subsequent successes in foreign policy, were partly due to the personal ties he developed in the simple, personal notes that regularly flew out of the Oval Office.
Email has certainly provided the opportunity for others to clog your spam filters. But it also allows for the kind of personal touch that is often missing in our line of work.
So here’s a suggestion.
When you are plowing through your day’s reading of the literature (more on this later) and you find a paper that is well done, drop the lead author a short email, no more than a couple of sentences, telling her how much you enjoyed it. Note *what* you liked about it. Wouldn’t you, on a particularly bad day, appreciate a little affirmation?
Who knows? You may be sowing the seeds of an accomplished foreign policy. Or at least introducing you and your work to a potential colleague.