Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Keep Your Email Communication Professional

Email has grown into the most popular method of communication in the business world, yet many professionals ignore business communication etiquette and common grammatical guidelines when communicating via email. The following tips will keep your business email professional and help you capture the attention of your audience.

  • Use a relevant and clear subject line: To help cut through the large number of emails most professionals receive, use a meaningful subject line stating a relevant reason for the email; for example: Please Review Petersburg Project Design Samples.
  • Start your message with an opening salutation: If you are initiating the first contact, take a formal approach, such as Mr. Jones:. If you’re responding to a message, follow the sender’s lead; if you were referred to by your first name, you may use a first-name-only salutation when responding. If you have an established relationship, using the person’s first name is acceptable and perceived as professionally friendly.
  • State the purpose up front: Communicate a clear purpose for the email in the opening sentence or two; otherwise, the recipient may quickly judge the email as irrelevant and discard it before even getting to your main point.
  • Be brief: Keep your email brief, ideally two to three short paragraphs. If there is additional information you need to share, do so via attached documents.
  • Reference the attachments: If your email includes attachments, reference them in the body of the email. When possible, use meaningful file names for the attachments.
  • Avoid acronyms, all uppercase, and smiley faces: Avoid using acronyms unless you are confident they are well known in your profession and/or industry. Stay away from using all caps—many think this helps emphasize a point, but it can be misinterpreted, hard to read, and appears unprofessional. And although fun, inserting smiley faces into your business communications is simply not professional.
  • Include a closing salutation: Close with a salutation. A few commonly accepted business closing salutations include: Sincerely, Kind regards, and Cordially.
  • Insert a signature block: Include standard closing text that appears at the bottom of all your email correspondence. This is referred to as a “signature block.” At a minimum, it should include your full name and your business contact information.

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