Business e-mails are something that almost all of us have to write some time or the other – whether we’re students, job seekers, business executives, or just about anyone else. Even stay-at-homes need to write them sometimes. How crucial well written e-mails are we have already discussed in our previous posts. The heading fields were discussed in Part 1 and the body in Part 2. Now here are some other points that have to be kept in mind in order to produce a well written and well formatted business e-mail:
1. Make it personal: A personal touch to the business e-mail always proves to be more effective. Custom the content according to the person you are writing to. In other words, keep the personal touch only as far as you know the person, don’t take it too far. Try and avoid auto replies, they’re too “mechanical”.
2. Answer swiftly: Reply to e-mails as soon as possible, within 24 hours if possible. If for some reason you cannot reply immediately, then write to them saying that you have received their e-mail and will get back to them as soon as possible. This shows your efficiency and professionalism.
3. Keep the message thread: It is better to hit the reply button and keep the original message rather than starting a new mail. A person very often receives several e-mails a day and it becomes difficult to remember everything. A thread works as a reminder of what the e-mail is about.
4. Be polite: This is very important. You wouldn’t want to give the impression of being rude or disrespectful. So, be careful in the choice of words and the tone of your language. Never use all capitals, all capitals means you’re shouting.
5. Don’t use abbreviations and emoticons: The use of abbreviations and emoticons in business e-mails is considered inappropriate. Besides, you can never be sure whether the person you’re writing to understands the abbreviations or not. Same goes for emoticons, like a smiley. The recipient may wonder why it’s there, which in turn may lead to misunderstandings.
6. Avoid the use of rich text or HTML: Remember, not all e-mail clients read rich text or HTML. Also, many offices keep their e-mail settings to plain text. So, if you send them in rich text or HTML, they might not be able to read your message, or they will get it as a .txt attachment.
7. Be careful with attachments: We all know how attachments can carry viruses, so very often recipients don’t even open them. So, if you do need to send an attachment, ask the recipient first if it’s ok to send it. If an attachment is a short one, it is best to copy paste it into the e-mail body itself.
8. Use the high priority option sparingly: Use the high priority option only when your message is urgent. Its overuse will lose its function, and you may also come across as being aggressive.
9. Add disclaimers: Disclaimers are very important. They protect you and your company from liability. So, always have disclaimers at the end of your messages.
10. Re-read before sending: Always re-read what you have written in the e-mail before sending it. Re-read through the eyes of the recipient – this not only corrects grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, but also avoids misunderstandings and inappropriate use of words or comments.
All these points may seem trivial, but go a long way in producing effective and professional e-mails, which in turn give a good impression of you as a business person.
Have I mentioned everything here, or have I missed anything? Or do you disagree with any of the given points? Please share your thoughts here so others may also benefit.
Business E-mail Etiquette – 1
Business E-mail Etiquette – 2
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