Corresponding via email is the most popular form of communication in business now. In fact, research has shown that we spend nearly 25% of our work time writing and responding to emails.
Yet, even with this being such a vital part of day-to-day business, many professionals are not capable of writing an appropriate email. This goes beyond simple spelling errors or smartphone typing mistakes. Some of the errors you may be making can be profiling you (and your company) in a very unprofessional manner.
Use these Email Etiquette tips below to learn how to construct a better, more engaging email.
1. Your Email Address Matters
If your company provides you with an office email address, you need to communicate using that. However, if you are using your own, personal email address make sure it is fitting and appropriate. The email address should convey who you are to the unknown sender. Some good examples are: FirstName@______.com or FirstInitialLastName@______.com. Some bad examples are: QTsweetie@______.com or BeerLover@______.com; these are not professional and can turn off a future(or current) employer, customer, or co-worker.
2. Make Your Subject Line Short & Sweet
The subject line is a way to summarize what your email is about in a clear and concise way. It should be 3 to 5 words in length, direct, and to the point. Many recipients decide whether to read an email and/or the urgency of reading an email based on the subject. These are some examples of acceptable subject lines: “Meeting Time Change” or “Customer Account Status”.
3. Use Appropriate Salutations
Business emails should always read professional. Never use laid-back or slang terms in an email, even if you feel like you are friendly with whom you are corresponding with. Terms like “Hey” or “Yo” should not be used to begin an email. Never abbreviate words like in text speak, such as “Thnx”, “U”, and “Ltr”. It’s also good to note that you should never shorten anyone’s name that you have never met; don’t automatically assume that Steven wants to be addressed as Steve.
4. Be Aware of the “Reply All”
Always be cautious of Replying-All on an email. Before you click the Send button think: 1- Does everyone included on this email WANT to know what I have to say? 2- Does everyone NEED to know what I have to say? 3- Would anyone be UPSET or offended by what I have to say? Sometimes it is best to respond to the original sender only. When responding to a group email, always double check to make sure everyone included on the email is intended to read your response.
No one likes opening an email to see tons of paragraphs written before them; it is overwhelming and often readers will choose to ignore it before reading it all because it seems too taunting. There are situations were you may have a lot to say; in these cases you can use bullet points to get all your topics across, or break your thoughts into several shorter emails. Always re-read your email to edit anything that might seem like you are rambling. Your email should be detailed so there is no confusion but comprehensive of all your thoughts.
6. Proofread EVERY Email
There is nothing more embarrassing then sending an email with spelling errors; it can make you look unprofessional and lazy. Proofreading goes beyond looking for spelling errors; also make sure your tense is accurate, you use the correct meaning of a word (its vs it’s or affect vs effect), and your punctuation is precise. It helps to read the email draft aloud to yourself to make sure that there are no errors. If it is an email of extreme importance or perhaps for a job application, let a friend or co-worker proofread it as well.
7. Set Up A Signature
Your email should always end with a proper signature. The signature should include a kind closing such as “Thank You”, “Kind Regards”, or “Sincerely” followed by your full name. Underneath, you should include all of your contact information: Phone Number, Email Address, Company Name, etc. This way it is easy for the person you are emailing to get back in contact with you. Make sure to add this signature setup to your phone too; a sent email from your phone should not just end with “Sent from my iPhone”.
8. Never Assume Privacy
Remember that your email is never truly private; so use discretion. The person on the other side of your email has the ability to print or forward that email to whomever they want; may it be another co-worker, HR, or even your boss. Never write something in an email that has the potential to lead to a reprimanding by a superior. Also be aware that IT and top level personnel at your company probably have access to your inbox. If you wouldn’t want someone in your company to read what you’re writing, please press delete.