I am a huge believer in email. Indeed, if you do business with me, the majority of our communication will take place via email. Email is a quick method of communication. Email is practical. Email is faster than lengthy telephone conversations. Most importantly, email provides me with an electronic record of my communications with clients, employees, partners, and vendors; this enables me to quickly refresh my rapidly deteriorating memory by referring to our electronic exchanges.
As someone who receives and sends hundreds of emails per day, I am continually amazed at how poorly written and unprofessional the majority of business emails are. Every day, I receive emails from fellow entrepreneurs that are devoid of complete sentences. They are frequently riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, are typed entirely in capital letters, and are occasionally nearly illiterate.
I recently received an email from someone attempting to sell me an expensive piece of equipment that read, “tom— what are your thoughts — ready to buy?” To begin, my name is “Tim,” and what I believe is that I will take my business elsewhere. Many thanks, drive-thru.
Why should you be concerned with the manner in which your emails are viewed by their recipients? Because you are constantly judged in business by your customers, employees, investors, partners, and peers. If your emails convey the impression that you did not put much thought into the message’s composition, that you are too busy to care, or that you are a complete moron who can not even use a spell checker, what do you think that communicates to the recipient?
Email is rapidly becoming the preferred method of business correspondence for the reasons discussed previously, and if you do not take the time to learn how to use email effectively and professionally, it will come back to haunt you.
Using that list as a starting point and adding a few of my own, here are Tim’s Top Ten Email Etiquette Rules that every entrepreneur, executive, and employee should follow.
Keep It Brief And Simple
An email is not a letter from camp, so refrain from waxing lyrical for any length of time longer than necessary. Bear in mind that reading an email on a computer screen is more difficult than reading printed communications, so keep your message brief and direct.
Correct Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation
This is critical not only because improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation reflect poorly on you and your company, but also to ensure that your message is not misconstrued. Emails with improper punctuation (every now and then, a comma and a period would be nice) are difficult to read and can occasionally alter the message’s meaning. Additionally, if your email program includes a spell checker, please use it.
Each email should include a signature block.
A signature block in an email is identical to the signature block used at the conclusion of a letter. Your name, title, company name and address, telephone number, email address, and website address should all be included.
This is my biggest pet peeve: people who take an eternity to respond to email. A prompt response is critical when the email originates from a customer or contains time-sensitive information. Customers send emails in the hope of receiving a prompt response. If they did not require a prompt response, they would send a letter, fax, or leave a message on your voicemail. Each email should be responded to within 24 hours, preferably the same business day. If you are unable to respond to the email in its entirety immediately, you should at the very least send a reply stating that you have received it and will contact them as soon as possible.
Before You Send Any Email, Take the Time to Read It
There is no surer way to embarrass yourself than by sending a hastily composed email. Many people do not bother to read an email before sending it, as evidenced by the numerous spelling and grammatical errors found in the majority of emails. Apart from that, reading your email through the recipient’s eyes will assist you in communicating more effectively and avoiding misunderstandings and inappropriate comments.
Confidential Information Should Not Be Discussed
Sending an email is comparable to mailing a postcard. Once it leaves your computer, the end user has complete control over it; therefore, if you do not want a record of your comments or information shared with others, do not send it. Additionally, never include libelous, sexist, or racially discriminatory remarks in emails, even if they are intended as a joke. Email correspondence has been used as evidence in court cases. That is not the path you wish to take.
Avoid Using ALL CAPS
In email parlance, WRITEING IN CAPITAL LETTERS APPEARS TO BE SHOUTING, so please tone it down. ALL CAPS is difficult to read and may elicit an angry response if the recipient misunderstands the purpose of your email. Emails should follow a standard sentence structure. Switch off Caps Lock and step away from the keyboard.
Keep Abbreviations and Emoticons to a Minimum
Avoid using abbreviations such as BTW (by the way) and LOL in business emails (laugh out loud). The recipient may be unaware of the abbreviations’ meanings, and they are generally inappropriate in business emails. Similarly, emoticons such as the smiley:-) and his depressed pal:-( are acceptable. If you are unsure whether your recipient understands the meaning of an acronym, it is best to avoid using it.
Avoid Using Backgrounds or Superfluous Graphics
I received an email from a fellow entrepreneur that was signed with an animated smiley face waving a gloved hand. I would not have been surprised if the email had come from Walt Disney. I had to wince, coming from a small technology company. There is little to smile about there.
Bear In Mind That Email Is An Official Form Of Business Communication
You would never send a customer a formal letter that lacked a salutation, a well-written body of text, and a signature. You should approach email in the same way. A proper business email should be formatted similarly to a brief letter. It should include a salutation, the message’s body, a sign-off, and a signature.
The following time, we will discuss email issues that should concern larger businesses. If your organization does not have a formal email policy, you should establish one. Next week, we will explain why.
To your success,