The use of email for business communications to associates, vendors, employees, and/or customers has become a way of life for most business owners. The speed, ease-of-use, and built-in communication trail of email are now second nature to conducting all types of business. However, along with the effortlessness and efficiency that are email hallmarks, there can be a risk of developing an overly casual or less professional tone in your content, compared to more standard forms of communication, such as letters, memos, mailings, or even phone conversations.
The rapid-fire transmission of the written word back and forth in a cycle of emails naturally lends itself to informal language. But as a professional growing your business, the focus should always be on exhibiting business-appropriate behavior in your verbal and written communications. In countless scenarios throughout the business world, an email has gone out without a last minute once-over, and something in the message has later been called into question, blemishing the reputation of the organization from which the email originated, and the individual who sent it.
To present a professional demeanor when using email as a primary tool for business transactions, consider establishing some business email etiquette guidelines for yourself and your employees.
Here are some tips to help ensure a quality control check on your company’s outgoing email business communications:
- Use the subject line. Often the subject line is left empty (a missed opportunity to grab someone’s attention) or contains a misleading headline that may confuse and ultimately annoy the recipient. So, make sure your headline matches the intention of your email.
- Keep the content brief and to the point. Avoid writing a long email message that may end up not being read in its entirety due to length or lack of focus. Brevity is key in electronic communications, so stick to one subject, and, remember, less is more.
- Watch your tone. Familiarities that you engage in with your family member or friends should not be used in a business email. Always check your message for tone and clarity of meaning before clicking the Send button. What you think is funny may not be seen the same way by the recipient.
- Spell check your email. While grammar and spelling standards may have relaxed in the Internet age, rushing off an email chock-full of errors could label you as unprofessional. In addition, your first impression could very well be your last if your written communications are substandard. Be sure to proofread your emails.
- Use your signature wisely. After checking your email for clarity, tone, and typos, finish off with an informative rather than a gimmicky signature. Include only your business contact information: your full name, title, company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and company website address.
Although email etiquette is mostly common sense, in a technologically driven culture where business transactions now occur electronically, it’s important to be diligent about your brand and company’s reputation when communicating by email.