I love email. It’s quick, efficient, and you can skip the small talk if you’re in a hurry. All of that makes for a brilliant business tool … if it’s used properly. When you’re emailing from work, here are a few things you should know to make sure you’re sending a professional email.
- Include a greeting. You don’t have to start with Dear Boss, but make sure to include something: Hi Boss, Good Morning, and Happy Friday will all break the ice and set the tone for the email.
- Use proper grammar and sentence structure. Emails have gotten a reputation for being informal, but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on quality. Write in complete sentences. Avoid text abbreviations (R U there? is not okay). And, for the love of ice cream, use punctuation!
- Add a closing. Don’t just end your email. Invite interaction and make sure it’s clear that your message is complete (and you didn’t accidentally hit send before you finished). Something like, Have a great day, Call me with questions, or What do you think lets the reader know that you’re done.
- Use a signature. As far as I know, all email options – even the free ones like Yahoo! and Gmail – allow you to create a personalized signature. These signatures are automatically included in each email you send, and can be customized with different sizes and fonts. You can even include your company logo. Make sure to include your business name and contact info, but don’t go crazy: I’ve seen some signatures that include every professional association, award, and social media link. Keep it to 3-6 lines.
- An accurate subject. Don’t try to get creative with your subject line. If the recipient doesn’t know why you’re emailing him, you reduce the likelihood that he’ll actually open your email. Keep it simple and to-the-point.
If you’re like most people, many of your emails turn into back-and-forth exchanges; I’ve had some email conversations include dozens of replies. When that happens, you’ll get more comfortable in your communication and leave off a greeting, then a closing, and that’s okay. You’re essentially having a digital conversation – if you were on the phone, you wouldn’t say “Hi Karin” every time you spoke, so it’s okay to let that slide as you have an email conversation. Your first email, however, should always include these four elements.
What do you think – is there anything else you’d include in a business email? Why do you think it’s important?