Email etiquette for business has some subtleties and it’s helpful to get a fresher course on occasion. Email is critical to successfully communicate in business. The convenience of quickly reaching out to someone any time of day or night, sending digital files, keeping all members of a group informed streamlines business transactions. Just as there is finesse in international business, there is also finesse in composing and responding to business email communications.
- Include a clear, direct subject line. Let the reader know what the email is about so they can prioritize response.
- Use a professional email address. It is most professional to use a company name based email address YourName@YourBusiness.com. Even if you are a freelancer, independent representative, etc. you will appear more professional by using a company domain based email address. When you create your email please lose the school nicknames or names that can portray a less than professional side of you. (beerlover@coolmail+com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.)
- Respond promptly – email business etiquette says let the recipient know they received their correspondence and that it is important to you. Even if you can’t answer everything in the email completely let the sender know you received it and you will respond in good time. Responding promptly also helps you be more organized.
- You don’t always have to ‘reply all’ – In group emails use discretion when responding to all. Most professionals are all too busy with full inboxes and don’t need more frivolous emails . If your response is not a decision, information, or a change that effects the whole group just send your comment to the people involved in that topic.
- Use professional salutations – Resist getting too familiar – especially to quickly. Choose hi or hello, not hey or whatzup?. Address people with their full names, don’t shorten someones name if you don’t know the name they prefer.
- Punctuation – Exclamation points should be used sparingly so as not to appear immature or overly emotional. When emailing from smaller devices like smart phones although it is extra work, use commas and other punctuation you would use in hand written correspondence.
- Be cautious with humor – Email is behind the screen and there are no facial expressions or tones to interpret that the communication is meant to be funny. Humor can get lost in translation in written form, be careful.
- Reply to emails you receive — even if the email wasn’t intended for you. If an email is accidentally sent to you, especially those seeking a response from the recipient it is good business email etiquette to respond. Let the sender know you received correspondence from them that they may have intended for someone else. By doing so they are able to connect with the person they intended and not assume that the intended recipient just chose not to respond.
- Proofread every message – Spell check doesn’t catch all errors. Read through your email a couple of times to catch errors in grammar or use of a wrong word before you send it.
- Double-check that you’ve selected the correct recipient – With auto fill It’s easy for someone else’s name to pop up before your intended recipient. Look before you send before you find yourself in an embarrassing situation.
- Blind cc when you are sending to a large list – especially when there are people in the group who don’t know each other. It is a breech of privacy to share peoples emails. Read more about how to bcc in your mail program.
- Refrain from too much formatting – use of too many colors and graphics in an email can appear unprofessional. Withemail etiquette for business,attaching a lot of backgrounds or graphics, or using a variety of fonts and colors can trigger spam filters and appear immature. Also, formatting may not be consistent on all systems either and your email may not be legible by some.
- Attachments – Check first and ask if it is okay to send attachments. Check the size and the file format to make sure your message isn’t too large and it is in a universal format that your recipient can open.
- Change the subject line – When sending a new email to a recipeint you have emailed before but you are now emailing for a new reason be sure to change the title. Most email software will thread emails with the same title together.
- Limit what you include in your email signature – don’t add every designation you’ve ever earned along with emails and photos or more then 4-5 lines in your signature . Better yet just include your name business name and a website link to your contact page that holds all your contact information.
Most of the above have been in place since email was created. Email programs are constantly changing, new features are added and new rules results. Keep current on email etiquette for business and your communications will always be viewed as professional.