Before you hit that send button proofread what you have written. Re-read to make sure it says what you think it does, check your grammar, check your spelling (not just with spellcheck which is often wrong) and most of all make sure what you have written is clear, concise and easy to understand.
You want to convey the impression that you are an articulate, intelligent and professional business person. You also want the recipient of your email to know that you respect them and their time. Taking a little more of your own time to proofread and make sure your emails sound professional goes a long way toward both of these ends.
Email is a great way of communicating for business.
However, it has its drawbacks. Most of these stem from a lack of clear communication.
Get to the point. If you need to introduce yourself and your reason for emailing, do so in the first paragraph. Keep it simple. Your reader doesn't need to know your whole life story, just your reasons for emailing.
Lay out your topics/questions in an orderly fashion - not just stream of conciousness. If you need to get all your ideas down quickly, do so, but then edit what you have written to make logical sense.
Use paragraphs to define separate topics, issues, etc. It is very hard to read a long string of sentences and/or questions that are strung together with no rhyme or reason.
Put yourself in the position of the reader. I know that you know what you meant to say, but would some random stranger be able to read it and understand what you are talking about? If not, then edit your more to make your point clear.
These days many of us use email as a primary source of communication for our businesses.
Emails do seem to lend themselves to a slightly less formal approach than the old fashioned business letter, but how you address your recipient in your email should be appropriate to the level of formality in your relationship.
For instance, unless I know the person really well I never use the word "dear" in the salutation - that just seems too personal to me. That's just me though - use your own judgement.
I also feel that if you know the name of the person you are emailing, you should address them by name. This adds a level of personalization and it also feels more respectful (you know who you are addressing - it's not just some random person).
I usually try to opt for something simple such as "Hi John" or "Good Morning John". Use whatever feels comfortable to you for the situation.
Two things I would definitely recommend:
- Definitely use some sort of salutation especially if it's a first email or the first reply to an email you received (long threads of quick reponses going back and forth can omit the salutation for expediency's sake)
- Spell the recipient's name correctly. To do otherwise is disrepectful. Also, don't shorten the recipient's name to a nickname unless they have done so first. (If they give you their nickname, feel free to use it.)
Remember how you address people is a sign of respect.
The purpose of a subject line is to get the recipient to actually open the email. It is often the first impression you portray – so shouldn’t you make it count?
First off, always include a subject line in your emails. Many email programs will warn you if you try to send an email without a subject line and since I tend to write the body of my emails first and leave the subject for later, I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me.
Second and just as important, make your subject line is clear and to the point. Frequently we receive emails with vague or even suspicious looking subject lines. Do you know this can cause your email to end up in the recipient’s spam folder? And, even if the spam filter doesn’t catch them, we are often hesitant to open emails with suspicious subject lines.
Third, don’t use the subject field as the message itself - this just makes your email unclear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened an email that seemed to start mid-sentence and had to look at the subject in order to figure out what the heck the sender is talking about.
Think about the quality of your subject line when composing an email, after all its purpose is get your recipient to open the email and read what you have sent.
Be careful when setting up your display name that will appear as the sender on all correspondence. You know, the name that shows up instead of your email address in the “From” field when you send an email.
Avoid putting your just first name: “John” – John who? Do you know how many emails I get every day from John and Jane and Bob And Beth?
And please, don’t put something cutesy: “Da Champ”, “the Queen”, or worse (believe me we’ve seen some real winners). This might be ok for correspondence with your family and close friends but it doesn’t look professional. Unless it relates to your business name, don’t do it.
Use your whole name or your business name. You want to let professional contacts, potential clients, gallery representatives, etc know you are a serious professional. It also makes it easier for those you correspond with to recognize your emails when they come in and to find your name in their “To” list when they want to contact you.
Spam filters on email are great time savers; they weed out a lot of garbage that we don’t want to see. But, they also trap a great many legitimate emails too.
If you use a spam filter, make sure it is not set to “auto delete” messages- have it put them in a junk or bulk mail folder. In addition, before you permanently delete the messages your junk mail folder, peruse through them and make sure no legitimate emails got caught in there.