We all relish the prospect of pouring over dozens of emails as part of our daily duties. Do we? Not at all. Hence it goes without mentioning that an email should be well written and reflect an acceptable level of professionalism.
- Email account names
Sindilicious@gmail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and the like are simply amateurish. Word of advice, change your email to a more professional one. Preferably, create an email address for your business no matter how small the size of your business and use it for all your business communication.
- Language of the email
I accidentally read an email (a case of someone not signing out at an internet café) whereby a lad was looking for a job and he had such phrases as: “I am a 25 yr old guy lukin for a job pls cn u help shem……”
After reading, I laughed so loud the owner threatened to kick me out. Moral of the story? Already this poor lad has already lost credibility.
Therefore respect all grammatical rules of formal business communication when communicating with your clients, suppliers or members of your professional circle. Plz, can’t, u etc are a big no. Articulate your message in formal, understandable language, consult your thesaurus if need be, for those tricky words like: restaurant or committee. Otherwise google works wonders.
- Subject line
Consider these three REQUEST FOR PAYMENT or request for payment or Request for overdue payment. The first two are noticeably unprofessional, due to the apparent all caps and the small caps. Subject lines should be in sentence case, clear and straight to the point. Whether or not will be opened by a busy CEO can depend on this.
Each time you send an email ensure the subject field is not empty. The other party might simply ignore it since it appears unimportant. Remember we are all busy with the business of living life hence do not make the assumption that the other party is sitting bored to bits awaiting your emails. Ouch!
When addressing a new contact whom you are not well acquainted with, do use their full name and title i.e Mr Sukati, Dr Mkhokho, Ms Vilakati etc. Avoid referring to someone whom you hardly know on a first name basis. Until that person says you can call me Sam, it is then that you can refer to them as such.
With time you may become acquainted with somebody you do business with. It is then that you may ease up on the formality. A contact might relax his email tone, at times sign-off with “Cheers Arsenio” Perhaps “Dr Mkhokho” could say please call me “Musa” that is a green light for you to refer to him on a first name basis.
- BCC, CC fields
I confess I was a cavemen when it comes to the right way of using these fields. A cautionary note is that BCC & CC fields are quite sensitive so you do want to thread carefully here.
CC means carbon copy. You know that plastic sheet of paper with ink on one side that you use when writing out invoices, give the original to the client and a copy remains in the invoice book? Yes. That’s pretty much what you are doing when CC’ing. So take for instance you have a business partner and want to keep him on the loop, you can CC in the email, it simply means you are showing you partner the email and saying this is our conversation with client so and so.
BCC is for copying to a list of contact without others seeing them. Your CC’d contacts will be able to see the BCC’d contacts.
- Using old emails for new correspondence
This is one bad habit, of which we all guilty of. For instance a client requests an invoice it is sent to him. You send it. Three weeks later you are sending a thank you letter to the same contact client, nevertheless you do not re-enter the email address anew to create a fresh conversation. This gives the person you are emailing the perception that you are a lazy.
Essentially each time the subject of the conversation is different re-enter the email name and write whatsoever the new subject is in the subject field.
- Missing attachments
Have you ever received an email like this “Kindly find the enclosed documents for your consideration” you check for attachments at the bottom all you find is air.
I personally make it a habit to first attach the documents before writing the body of the email. A quick way to triple check if the attachments have been sent is to look for the paper-clip sign on the email.
- Common courtesy
As you say hello or thanks when conversing with actual people the same etiquette applies with emails. Put a salutation such as greetings, hello or hi and sign off with best regards, kind regards or simply say regards. This smoothens your email making it less demanding and pleasant to read. Do not rush into the message especially with new contacts, unless this is a back to back conversation via email.
- Respond promptly
Some few years back people in Swazi generally had a phobia perhaps more of an aversion towards of responding to emails. Notably, more and more people are getting accustomed to using emails as a primary forms of business communication.
Hence make means to check your emails several times a day and respond as soon as you can to emails. Prompt responses are as one writer put it is a “customer service issue that should not be underestimated” The longer you take to reply to say a quotation request, you client goes knocking next door at your competitors.
A simple “Greetings Arsenio I have received your email thanks” Can make the world a better place. It is pretty annoying to communicate with people who do not respond at all.
- Master the art of succinctness
The best emails are one that are brief yet informative enough, straight to the point yet diplomatic. You should always picture your recipient(s) as being the busiest people on planet earth and the rest of our galaxy. Your message has to be straight forward, nobody likes reading essays, unless it is it’s a novel.