1 – Remember that in writing to the people you do business with, or want to do business with, you only have your words, phrases and punctuation to try to convey your feelings, attitudes and tone, so choose them carefully. Be concise and not too emotionally descriptive. You can keep a polite and positive tone of your emails even when you write short notes simply by always having proper and friendly salutations. It is amazing how far a simple opening line like 'Hello Jim" and sign-off like "Thanks" will go to show you are still being friendly and not curt in your short email.
2 – Do not use CAPITALS as it looks like you are SHOUTING. If you wish to draw attention to something important that your client or vendor must see, it is better to use bold font, underlining or italics.
3 – Do not write emails that are too long, as email predominantly is used for quick communication, especially in North America. Stick to one subject per email, or maximum two. When responding to a person's email, directly answer what was asked before you attempt to change subjects or add another issue to the email. It is actually better to have 2 separate email strings on two different topics than one longer, more complicated string that mixes two or more ideas. Categorize your emails by using the subject line.
4 – Use the "Subject" line wisely, so people can understand exactly what the email is regarding. If you want people to notice it and open your email, you will get a higher open rate if you keep your subject line short, punchy, intriguing or funny (if appropriate). You probably have noticed a lot of sales or spam emails you receive daily in your inbox often use these techniques to try to get you to click "open." Now you can employ the same strategy to get people in your professional network to open your emails too.
5 – When finished, review your email and ask yourself if the tone sounds personal or professional, and does this match your intention, and the intended recipients’ expectations? It is important that both are aligned. If you send a casual style email to a potential client or strategic partner who is expecting (for whatever reason) a professional tone, you risk making a poor first and lasting impression of yourself and your company. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and be more formal until you see how they interact with you in correspondence. Then you can mirror their style to ensure you are aligned.
6 – ‘Emoticons’ or 'emoji' and some short text-style abbreviations can now be used in professional communications, so please do. Just stick to the easy, familiar ones like smiley faces and LOL. There is still an age gap so for those younger entrepreneurs out there, do not assume the older ladies and gentlemen will know your 'code' that you grew up with. When in doubt, do not use, so as to avoid embarrassment on either side.
7 – Remember the permanency of your emails. Before you click ‘send’ ask yourself “Am I comfortable with this email being seen by the CEO of that company, if it ever were?” Edit what does not sound clear or professional. Emails are forever.
8 – Remember when dealing with sensitive or complex information to always use face to face or telephone communications instead of emails, whenever possible, to increase the chance of being clearly understood. Remember that only about 7% of our communication is done on a verbal level so it is much harder for people to understand our full meaning with just words on a page or screen.
9 – Remember to reply promptly, even when you are busy, to important contacts. Try not to put off replying to people for too long, as some people are sensitive and feel they are being ignored and will feel resentment, or start bombarding your inbox or voice mail. I understand a busy person gets a ton of emails a day and you must prioritize. However if you are taking the time to read or skim an email, you can take an extra 30 seconds to respond at that moment, even just to say “thanks” or “ok” or “will be in touch soon” or “great, thanks”. etc. You must nurture important contacts in your network at all times without taking them for granted. Most people are happy if you respond to their email within the same day or the next (latest). NOTE: if you are upset or otherwise emotionally compromised, do not respond right away to an email that ‘bothers’ you. You may draft the response but do not send it. Review it the next day and then edit it for polite, professional and positive tone, and delete any personal attacks or judgmental words and phrases. Business is business.
10 – Have a goal when checking email. Some people open up their inbox and then start to read some emails, respond to others, review old ones, etc. Then they look up at the clock and realize they have been ‘checking’ email for an hour. Too much productivity is lost. Try to have a priority list, a goal, a time limit etc. set up before you open your inbox. Also, try not to be a slave to every new incoming email as well. If something is truly urgent and a person needs your reply immediately, they will call you!
Please take these 10 tips for professional and efficient email communication and share them with others who you feel would benefit.