Invite Others

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This past week I found myself trying to use a website that manages meeting invitations and keeps track of recipients. Unfortunately, I found out that the email sent from this site is blocked by many firewall and spam filters meaning my invitation did not reach all the people I had hoped.

It was about that time that I discovered that Gmail has a way to create an event invitation. You can find it just above the text box for your message body when you compose a new email.

Begin by composing a message as you normally would by entering names in the “To” field and enter a subject. Next, click on the link just below the subject labeled “Add event notification” – several additional boxes will appear allowing you to provide an event title, location, and starting and ending date and time.

You can place more details, such as a meeting agenda, in the body of the message. When you’re done, just click Send as you normally would.

If you did not intend to use the event invitation, use the “remove” link just to the right of the event name.

If your invitation is received by an Outlook user, for example, they see it like any other meeting invitation and click on the “Accept” or “Decline” button. If another Gmail user gets the invitation, they can click on one of the options “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe” next to the question if they are going.

As the meeting coordinator you can easily click on “Calendar” at the top of your Gmail screen, locate the event, and see how many people have responded and what their response was. This is important when you need to know whether to bring one or two plates of cookies.

I found this much more straight forward to use than the website I had previously tried. There are some things to keep in mind when sending invites. First, if you send an email to 500 or more people, or you send a large number of undeliverable messages, you could find your Gmail account temporarily disabled. For those using a POP or IMAP mail client such as Outlook Express, Thunderbird, or Mac Mail, your sending limit is 100 recipients. If this happens, your account should be re-enabled within 24 hours.

Also, if you need to communicate with a large number of people, you might want to consider a Google Group. Creation and setup of Google Groups is a bit beyond the scope of this podcast. I found that while Google Groups are great for shared discussions it can be tricky to use them to send meeting invites since the responses either go back to the entire group, or appear in the event’s attendees list with the group name instead of the individual who replied.

Unfortunately, I am in a situation where I want to hand off the meeting invitations to someone else and there doesn’t seem to be a way to share Gmail contacts with a standard or hosted account at this time. The best I can do is export my contacts list and have the new facilitator import it.

Quick Tip:
Show pictures from people you know. Gmail will now show pictures in email from people you know. If you have sent that person email at least twice before, the images will automatically be inserted in to the message – this very handy for those family photos, holiday shots, or newborn grandchild. You can also click on the link “Display images below” or “Always display images from (current sender)” if the images are not automatically added. The reason they were not displayed before was done as a security precaution from spammers. Gmail would not display images unless you clicked one of those links and that was annoying. Thank you Google for making image viewing a little simpler.

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