Most people in business send and receive thousands of e-mails per year. While e-mail is a valuable business tool, you always have to ensure that you follow the proper etiquette. After all, e-mail is another extension of yourself, just as if you were writing a letter or meeting someone in person. Here are some tips for composing effective business e-mails from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Edmonton:
1. Add someone’s e-mail after you write it — Even though the “to” field is usually located at the top of an e-mail, leave it blank until you are finished writing. This will prevent you from sending the message before it is finished or failing to include the necessary attachments.
2. Consider the tone of your e-mail — When speaking with someone in person, on video chat or on the phone, you can hear the inflections in his or her voice. Hesitation and sarcasm are easy to interpret. However, this does not always come across in an e-mail. Write with a neutral tone to avoid confusion.
3. Use motivational subject lines — Make sure you use a subject line that defines the topic of your e-mail and makes the recipient want to open it. Your subject line should be a clear summary of the body of your e-mail. This is particularly relevant when your sales and marketing teams send e-mails.
4. Think of your e-mail as a business letter — Unless you are writing to someone you know extremely well, you need to think of your correspondence with them as strictly professional. Although e-mail may feel more informal, its purpose is not.
5. Write clearly and concisely — Most business people are extremely busy; therefore, people want to see and digest important information as quickly as possible. To do this, write clearly. Use bullet points and make sure the recipient knows you are available to discuss the details if necessary.
6. Do not use e-mail as a passive tool — e-mail is a passive means of communicating. Although it allows you to avoid a conflict, it is rarely the best course of action when there is an issue to address. If you need to talk about something crucial or pressing, it is always better to meet in person or on the phone.
7. Use proper grammar — There are various types of business e-mails—some may go out to your entire team, while others may reach prospects. While interoffice e-mails may be somewhat informal, introductions to business prospects should not come across this way. An e-mail full of typos and colloquial language will distract your audience from the message and undermine your professional authority. Always type with an educated tone that exudes professionalism and confidence.
8. Write the e-mail first in MS Word — Most people will forgive a few minor mistakes in an e-mail, but initial e-mails must run without error. To ensure the proper image, always write an important e-mail in MS Word. Doing so allows you to use its spell check and grammar features before sending it via Outlook or comparable e-mail services.
9. Use an e-mail signature — Always include an e-mail signature. The signature should include your name, title, phone number (with extension), business address and business website. This looks professional and establishes the legitimacy of your business; furthermore, it allows the recipient to easily locate your contact information.
While e-mail is a fast and useful tool for communication in the business world, it does not excuse poor communication and it is in no way a final substitute for verbal communication. A recipient’s e-mail inbox is much like a physical mailbox—it is rude to send too many messages. In the contemporary business world, e-mail can influence the amount of success you have in communicating your message. It can also enhance (or tarnish) your reputation as a consummate professional.
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