If you’re like most business professionals, you probably use e-mail more than any other mode of communication. Just like face-to-face conversation, there are rules of etiquette for e-mail communication which can help to create a strong professional image. In order to make the best impression when contacting clients and colleagues via e-mail, make sure to follow the following etiquette tips:
Subject Line: Often people use a vague topic in the subject field of an e-mail, for example, “Hello” or “Tomorrow”, or worse, omit a subject all together. The subject field is there for a reason—a succinct, specific subject not only gives the recipient a general idea of what to expect from the content of the e-mail, but allows them to find the message more easily in their inbox if they need to access it at a later date. Write your subject line so that your recipient can easily discern the general topic of the e-mail, for example “Agenda for Tomorrow’s Meeting,” or “Projections for Next Quarter.”
Greeting: You would never begin a phone conversation without saying hello first. The same rule applies to e-mail; jumping into the body of an e-mail without a proper greeting can seem abrupt and overly casual. The formality of your greeting can vary dependent on the situation and recipient; for example, you may start an e-mail to a colleague who you’re particularly close to with a casual greeting such as, “Hi there,” whereas an e-mail to a new client would more appropriately start with “Dear Jayne.”
Response Time: Since most of us are inundated with more e-mail than we can handle on a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to let messages build up in our inbox and sit there for some time. For most professional correspondence, a good rule of thumb is to respond to within 24 hours to any e-mail. If you find you have trouble responding in a timely manner, mark each important professional e-mail as you receive it, and then set aside a particular time each day to respond to all of them at once, for example right after lunch, or when you first come to work. If necessary, break this daily e-mail response time into two smaller, more manageable chunks.
Check in again next week for part two of our series on professional e-mail etiquette.
If you want to sharpen your communication skills and polish your speech, you might benefit from the services of a corporate communications coach. Let our team of corporate speech-language pathologists help you reach your professional potential through strong communication. Give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Don’t live in NYC? No problem! Our services are Skype ready, so CSS’s corporate speech coaches can help you improve your communication from anywhere in the world.