Email is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.
If you already get more business emails than you care to open, read, and respond to, you're definitely not alone. The Radicati Group notes that most of the email traffic in 2014 originated from the business sector, which worked out to south of 108.7 billion emails both sent and received everyday.
Like it or not, emails are a part of business. But as you get more and more inundated, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your emails get read. One way you can do this is to adopt some best practices for professional email etiquette. From a professional email greeting to professional email format, it can all make a big difference. So read on for some business email etiquette tips that will increase the odds of your emails being read rather than trashed.
1. Specify your subject line.
The first step in professional email etiquette is that you should title your email in such a way that the recipient immediately knows what the message is actually about. For instance, if you're emailing to inform a colleague about a specific meeting, you can title your email something like, “Info about budget meeting.” If you're sending an email to inform a co-worker about an impromptu meeting, you might title the email something like “Meeting in the conference room at 2pm today.” All in all, you want your title to get to the point, right away.
2. Use a professional email address.
Proper email etiquette calls for sending emails from your business email address rather than from a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you're discussing confidential matters.
3. Use professional email greetings.
While it might be tempting to use informal salutations when emailing associates and friends at work, you should use the same professional greetings as you typically would if writing business correspondence with pen and paper. So think "Hello" rather than "Hey."
4. (Mostly) avoid “reply all.”
It's usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending professional emails. Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and hit “reply all” only if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients. Otherwise, your email might be considered spam.
Sometimes people pay less attention to spelling and proper grammar when composing emails than when writing actual letters, which is the way business correspondence was traditionally done. But the truth is that proper spelling and grammar still counts. After writing your email, read it through out loud to ensure that your errors don't overshadow your message. The reason for reading it out loud is that sometimes your ears will catch something that your eyes skim over.
6. Acknowledge emails.
With business email etiquette, whether or not the person emailing you requests a response, it’s always a good idea to send one anyway. You should not only acknowledge all emails, but also do so in a timely fashion. This sort of courtesy is not always extended, and you’ll be surprised at how much your professionalism can set you apart.
7. Avoid all caps.
Using all capital letters in a written communication is like shouting in a face-to-face conversation — and no one likes to be yelled at. So it's usually not appropriate or proper email etiquette to employ all caps in order to convey your message. If you know what you want to say, let your words show how you feel, and leave the “caps lock” button alone. One obvious exception would be if you’re using acronyms.
8. Attach carefully.
In the event that you need to send large attachments, you should first ask the intended recipient whether or not doing so is okay. Assuming you get the go ahead, you should use a program to compress or zip the attachment so that it takes up less space in the recipient's email inbox. It’s also a good idea to let the recipient know when you plan to send the attachment.
9. Double check that email address.
When it comes to business matters, the last thing you want is to send an email to the wrong person. That’s why you should double check the recipient’s info before hitting the “send” button. If you make a habit of verifying the receiver’s info, you’ll avoid making mistakes.
10. Sign off in style.
It's a good idea to have an email signature as a component of your corporate identity. It will make your emails come off looking more legitimate and professional. In fact, you can look at your email signature as the digital equivalent of your business card. That said, you want your email signature to be as properly formatted as is your printed business card. So drop the multiple font types and go for standardization to present a nice, professional image.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit to think about when it comes to email etiquette at work. Email in the workplace is a fact of life, and there is research that suggests that this will be the case in the years ahead as businesses rely on emails to communicate internally and externally. What this means is that you need to learn how to go about using this form of electronic communication effectively, particularly if you want your emails to be read rather than deleted.
Maintaining a professional image includes communicating properly, and that, of course, includes emails. Email is a powerful, professional tool, both in the workplace and for networking. These email etiquette tips will give you a good start as you make effective use of email in the business environment.
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