As we all begin to consider our resolutions for the New Year, it’s a good time to review how we conduct business via email. Your personal brand is at stake…so take heed to these simple, but effective guidelines for good email etiquette:
1. Avoid sending private messages via any company account. Use a free account service instead – like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, or Excite, if your company allows. This way, your private messages will stay private.
2. Please… don’t forward chain letters. Just don’t. This includes emails that threaten if you don’t forward it to 10 people you’ll die. If I get one, count me in on the 10 people that are looking for you to die.
3. Keep your verbiage professional. Don’t engage email lingo abbreviations: ‘u’, ‘afk’, ‘ty’, ‘jk’ acronyms. In business communications, this may give the impression that your childish…or worse yet, illiterate.
4. Keep your tone professional. Always remain aware of the professional (or lack of) relationship between yourself and the reader before writing an email. Gauge what topics are appropriate, as well as the tone of your language. Common sense to most, but you’d be surprised at how often the rule is ignored.
5. Don’t forget – email is not private; it can be intercepted anywhere en route to its recipient. In addition, it can (and likely will) live on for years in recipient email boxes. Think before writing and/or sending email you may later regret.
6. Whatever you do… don’t send an email when you are angry. Trust me…I know this one first hand. Most of the time email conveys very interpretive emotions, particularly humor. However, it does easily transmit anger – even if you don’t intend it to come through.
7. Write meaningful subject lines. Write something that clearly states what your email is about. This is increasingly important to distinguish legitimate emails from spam.
8. Stay brief. Try to summarize your information so that your recipients are more likely to read the email and actually respond. Break long emails into bulleted or numbered points form so that responses can be sent in order of appearance or number.
9. Summarize. Precede any long email with a short summary. Like a good book, reading the inside cover can set the tone for the details inside.
10. Don’t forget the telephone. Unless you need a written record of a given communication, consider calling your recipient instead of an email. People often default to writing an email because it is quick and easy; but sometimes a handwritten letter or phone call can provide the personal touch your communication really needs. Others simply don’t read or communicate via email easily. Gauge your communication to the type of individual you’re trying to communicate with effectively.
11. Proofread. We all know there is a difference between typos and poor writing. Poor writing can improve with frequent practice. Typos stay typos unless you eliminate them. And as if you needed another reason to be concise, remember that the chance of typos is directly proportional to the length of your email.
Use these easy steps in the New Year, and you’ll be a more effective communicator with your clients and co-workers. It’s an easy resolution to make…even easier to keep!