Email is great as it allows us to work faster and more efficiently, but experts agree that your email etiquette is paramount, as it has the potential to sabotage your reputation both personally and professionally if you’re not too clued up.
Email Etiquette Know How
In order that your email doesn’t disappear unnoticed into a sea of emails clogging up email inboxes every day, having a clear subject line will better assist in making sure that your email is more likely to get read. Keep it brief but specific to the main point of your communication. Your subject line should also match the message – never open an old email and hit ‘reply’ and send the message with an old subject that has nothing to do with your current message. Do not hesitate to change the subject as soon as the thread or content of an email chain changes.
Anonymity or expecting the recipient to put in additional leg work is not going to get you very far in the business world so it’s important that your emails include a digital signature. This tells the recipient which company you work for, who you are and how to get hold of you. To save time and mistakes, make sure to set up a signature to automatically appear at the end of each email you type.
Keeping your emails professional is key to email etiquette. Addressing recipients, even if they are well known to you, in a formal manner. “Hi” or “Hello” are quite acceptable greetings these days whereas “Hey” or “Hiya” is not. Should you wish to use the person’s name in the salutation, always use their full name – “Hello Steven” – unless you are given permission to shorten them – “Hello Steve”. While using “Dear” may feel fairly old school, it remains highly appropriate in circumstances for first-time communications, especially when the recipient is not yet known to you – “Dear Sir”.
It’s always best to refrain from using humour in emails as it doesn’t generally translate well and has a high chance of being misinterpreted. Without the accompanying vocal tone and facial expressions, what you may think is funny could be interpreted as sarcasm or worse. Abbreviations like LOL, emoticons and overuse of exclamation points also do not translate well in business communications and should be avoided.
Keep it Short
Long emails are a thing of the past. So as not to overwhelm your recipients with emails that look like they are going to be a burden to read, write concisely and use lots of white space. Bullet points are also a good trick to keep your message to the point. The purpose of your email should be highlighted in the first two sentences.
Stand Alone Message
It’s often best to create your message as a stand-alone note, even as a response to a chain of emails. The recipient may receive a large number of emails a day and very likely won’t remember the chain of events leading up to your response. Make sure to include the subject and any important points of reference to any previous emails or conversations. When it comes to email etiquette, beware of hitting “Reply All” unless every member in the email chain needs to be privy to the message. Only send your message to the right people.
Even if you don’t have a definitive answer yet, always endeavour to give a timely and polite reply to each legitimate email addressed to you. Depending on the nature of the email and the sender, responding to emails within 24 to 48 hours is acceptable under email etiquette. Even just letting the sender know you received their email and will write a second and more detailed response at another time boosts confidence in your business. Inform the sender if their email was sent to the wrong recipient too.
Avoid Angry Emails
Give each message you send some thoughtful consideration. If you are feeling angry, rather put the email aside as a draft and review it again later when you are calmer and have time to formulate a professional and appropriate response.
Should you have to share personal or confidential information, rather do so in person or over the phone. Alternately, always ask for permission before sending sensitive material either in the body of an email or as an attachment.
Opinions matter in the professional world and can have a huge impact on a business’s success. Email etiquette dictates that grammar and spelling are rather important as you and your business will be judged on the way you compose an email. Make sure to always proofread your emails for errors before you send them so that you don’t come across as careless, disorganised or uneducated.
Let Mailmech help you to find the best solutions to the smooth operation of your business. Call them for advice and products on 011-789 1608 or visit www.mailmech.co.za