In the first part of Business E-mail Etiquette, we discussed the importance of well written and well formatted business e-mails. It’s these e-mails that give the first impression of you as a business person. We also mentioned that though there are no rules as such on how to write business e-mails, there are certain etiquettes that need to be followed. Last time we discussed the etiquette basics for header fields. This time we will discuss the etiquette basics for the body of the e-mail.
Etiquette basics for the body of the e-mail:
1. Salutations: How to write the salutation depends much on the situation and whether or not you know the person you are writing to. If you know the person, the salutation will be just as you would address him/her in person – ‘Dear’ followed by the first name if that’s how you address him/her, or ‘Dear’ followed by the title Mr., Mrs., Ms, or Miss and the last name. If you don’t know the person, use the normal salutation that you would in a business letter – ‘Dear’ followed by the title Mr., Mrs., Ms, or Miss and the last name. Sometimes you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to; in that case, try and find it out and use it in the salutation. If you can’t find it out, then use ‘Dear’ followed by the position/title of the person – for example, ‘Dear Principal’ or ‘Dear Manager’.
2. Give some background: Don’t assume the recipient to know why you are writing. Always start your e-mail by giving some background information.
3. Keep it concise: When you come to the actual message of the e-mail, come straight to the point and only say what you have to say. In other words, keep it brief and concise. Business persons don’t have the time to read unnecessary things, nor to scroll down looking for the information they want. So, keep your e-mail only as long as it needs to be. If your e-mail is a reply, then be sure to answer all the questions that need to be answered. If don’t do that, it will only mean more e-mails back and forth, and as a result waste of time, or even loss of the client.
4. Give proper structure and layout: Structure and layout is just as important as the content of the e-mail to show your professionalism. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short; leave blank lines in between paragraphs; if you are making points, then number them; keep your language gender neutral; and be sure to use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Always re-read what you have written before sending your e-mail. You wouldn’t want to regret sending an e-mail with errors, would you?
5. Signatures: Sign off your email the same way as you would a business letter – ‘Yours faithfully’ if you don’t know the person you’re writing to, ‘Yours sincerely’ if you know the person, ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Best regards’ if the person is a friend. Follow this by your name. But keep your signature file short – just your name, your position/title, your company name, phone number, and website link. Sometimes e-mail addresses and mailing addresses are also given, but they are not necessary because the e-mail address is already evident in the header, and no one really uses mailing addresses anymore.
Please feel free to add anything that I may have missed here.
(Some more tips follow in Part 3 of Business E-mail Etiquette)