The Lost Art of Email Etiquette

9/17/2014
Rosanne Gain

Email, in wide usage since the 1990s, is invaluable for business communication. But are users being careless with it?

Improper use of email displays a lack of professionalism and can be hazardous to your computer’s health and your credit rating. Leaving yourself and those you communicate with via email vulnerable to hacking, ID theft and computer viruses isn’t just inconsiderate, it’s downright dangerous.

Email is still the most effective marketing tool for small businesses, according to a survey from Constant Contact. Ninety one percent (91%) of small business owners cited it as the best delivery method for their marketing message. So, since it is a valuable business tool, learn to use email effectively.

Here are some tips that will show you as a considerate and savvy person when it comes to using email:

Keep it professional

When using email for business, keep in mind that what you say and how you say it says a lot about you and your professionalism or lack thereof.

Use the subject line

Not using the subject line telegraphs that this may be spam, so it may be ignored. Make the subject line short and to the point. If your communication back and forth with someone moves to a different subject, remember that you can change the subject line.

Keep your message brief

Your business clients, prospects and fellow community leaders have busy lives. Get to the point and if action is needed, be clear on how and when the recipient should respond.

Don’t shout

Using all capital letters is interpreted at shouting, which can also come across as angry. Don’t do it.

Check your message for typos

We all type quickly and typos happen. Before hitting the send button, read it or better yet have someone else look at it for you.

Respond promptly

Sitting on emails too long makes you look indecisive and unprofessional. If you need time to think about it or to gather information, acknowledge receipt and tell them when you will get back to them.

Know when to take it offline

With email it is hard to communicate expression and tone of voice. If responses back and forth are plentiful and nothing is resolved, pick up the phone. You’ll be surprised how fast this moves things along.

Learn when to use BCC (blind carbon copy) to protect recipients

When sending an email to a large group that doesn’t need to interact with each other, put your name in the “To” section and intended recipients in the “BCC” section. Why? Putting recipients in the “To” section exposes them to spam, email hacking and computer viruses.

Reply or Reply to all

Before hitting the “reply to all” button, think about whether everyone needs to see your reply. (See above.) You can also remove some recipients from the reply to all where appropriate.

Think before you send

If reply is emotionally charged, why not wait over night before sending.

Long before people were posting stupid things on Facebook, they were writing stupid things in an email and hitting the send button before thinking about it. Don’t be one of those people. With a little forethought, you can enhance your reputation as a responsible communicator and a savvy businessperson.

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