- Subject line - be sure the subject line accurately reflects the content of your email. Don’t hit reply on an old email and start typing about an entirely different subject. If you do, it is a good idea to change the subject line to reflect the new message contents.
- Addressing your email - address your contact with the appropriate level of formality and make sure to spell their name correctly. Formality is a courtesy and reflects respect. Assume the highest level of formality with new email contacts until the relationship dictates otherwise. Refrain from getting too informal too soon in email communications.
- Be clear and concise – try to keep emails short and to the point. Include details as required, but try not to be long winded. In most cases, picking up the phone would be a lot easier than typing out a 5 page email. Make it easy on yourself and on the person who is receiving the email.
- Answer all questions – be sure you are including all the relevant details or information necessary for the recipient to understand what you’re asking for or your point of view. Generalities usually cause confusion.
- Spell check and read aloud if necessary – spell check cannot fix grammatical errors. If you are sending an email to someone, it’s important to re-read it before hitting send. A friend of mine received an email stating “I look forward to spanking with you again”. Oops. Luckily she has a good sense of humor, but not everyone will. Also, try to avoid using acronyms and short hand. It really is not that hard to type out you instead of “u” or okay instead of “k” and it makes you appear more professional.
- Watch who you are replying and sending to – Refrain from using the Reply All feature to give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases, replying to the Sender alone is your best course of action.
- Attachments and file size – some email accounts can’t receive attachments larger than 10MB. Sending a file larger than that can cause the recipients email account to clog up which can cause delayed receipt or bounce back for subsequent emails. When sending a larger attachment, you can “zip” the file to compress it to a smaller size or you can use a 3rd party application to send the file (like dropbox.com or yousendit.com).
- Include your email signature – an email signature contains your essential contact information. Make sure to include your name, phone number, website link and company name. Use your email signature on all new emails and on emails you are replying to.
Implementing these rules will make your emails more professional, efficient and more likely to get read and responded to. When it comes to business, regardless of the mode of communication used, professionalism and courtesy never go out of style.
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