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Dodge the Deluge

Floods of e-mails have workers everywhere running for higher ground. Can e-mail trainers help stem the tide?

Technology research firm IDC estimates that 10.1 trillion e-mails will be sent worldwide this year. Now, a growing number of experts offer training courses to teach you and your employees how to better manage all those e-mails.

In 2006, 42 percent of employers offered e-mail training, according to American Management Association and ePolicy Institute research--up from 24 percent in 2001. But is paying a trainer really worth the cost and effort? Bob Pritchett, founder of Logos Bible Software, a $15 million software publisher in Bellingham, Washington, doesn't think so. He developed his own basic course on e-mail etiquette and efficiency for new hires. "It seems silly to spend money on something so straightforward," says Pritchett, 36.

Training from an internal leader may have an advantage, because the way a company handles e-mail touches on several facets of corporate culture, says Stefanie Smith, president of Stratex Consulting. Someone who only comes for a day might not grasp the subtleties of a company's operations.

Mike Song, an e-mail efficiency trainer and co-author of The Hamster Revolution, disagrees. He contends that experts bring value and says that his two 90-minute training sessions are far more effective than an internal how-to memo or a book on the topic. "I bring in a host of experiences with other companies in [the client's] industry," says Song. "I'm a bit of a cheerleader as well--to get them motivated and excited about it." Is getting excited about e-mail a stretch for you? Then maybe it is time to call in the experts.

This story appears in the October 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »