Top 10 Business E-Mail Basics
When it comes to your business e-mail communications, you need to make an impression that can lend to the determination that you are someone that will be a pleasure to do business with.
For your consideration below are the "Top 10 e-mail issuestargeted at business men and women. These are the issuesbusiness owners and their employees minimally need to be aware of in their day-to-day online communications.
1. SUBJECT: Field: The SUBJECT: field is the window into youre-mail and can many times determine even if your e-mail will beopened. If this is your first contact with a customer based ontheir request through your site or otherwise, be sure to have ashort SUBJECT: that indicates clearly what the topic of thee-mail is. Never be misleading in this regard! Typos, all capsor all small case can give the impression you are a spammer.
2. Level of Formality: Never assume a position of informality inyour business e-mail. Only time and relationship buildingefforts can guide when you can informalize your businessrelationships. And, in some cases that time may never arise. Donot assume that e-mail is impersonal or informal when it comes to your business communications. It is very personal - a windowinto the type of person you are and how you run your business.Remember, people do business with people not companies. Oneshould communicate as if your e-mail is on your companyletterhead at all times. This is your business's image you arebranding!
3. Addressing: How do you address your new contacts? I wouldsuggest initially that you assume the highest level of courtesy:Hello, Mr. Anderson, Dear Ms. Jones, Dr. Osborne, etc. Untilyour new contact states, "call me Andy" or "you can call meDiane. Keep it formal until it is clear the relationshipdictates otherwise. You will also be able to get clues by howyour contacts approach you and their tone. Most business peopledo not mind being called by their first name, however, in aglobal economy that can be perceived as taking prematureliberties in the relationship if used too soon.
4. TO:, From:, Bcc, Cc fields can make or break you:
..In the TO: field make sure you have your contact's nameformally typed. John B. Doe - not john b doe or JOHN B DOE.
..In the FROM: field make sure your have your full name formallytyped. Example: Jane A. Jones. Not: jane a jones or JANE AJONES. The later two give the perception of lack of education orlimited experience with technology. Always use your full name.By only including your first name or e-mail address you aregiving the perception you have something to hide or do not knowthe basics of configuring your e-mail program.
..Bcc: use this field when e-mailing a group of contacts who donot personally know each other. By listing an arms length listof e-mail addresses in the CC or TO fields of contacts who do not know each other or who have never met is conducive to publishing their e-mail address to strangers. No matter how great the list of people may be to you, never make this decision for others! This is a privacy issue! With those you are forging partnerships with, visibly listing their e -mail address in with a group of strangers will make one wonder what other privacy issues you may not respect or understand. Not good.
..Cc: Use this field when there are a handful of associatesinvolved in a discussion that requires all be on the same page.These business people know each other or have been introduced and have no problem having their e-mail address exposed to theparties involved. If you are not sure if a business associatewould mind their address being made public, ask!
5. Formatting: Refrain from using it in your businesscommunications. Unless you would type something in bold crimsonletters on business letterhead, don't do it when e-mailing forcommercial gain. Even something as simple as using a differentfont makes your e-mail's display contingent upon the recipienthaving that specific font on their system or it defaults to their designated default font. The recipient may not have their e-mail program configured in such a way as to display your formatting the way it appears on your system - if at all.
6. Attachments: Do you think your relationship with a potentialnew customer is enhanced when you send them that 5M Power Pointpresentation they didn't request and you fill up their inboxcausing subsequent business correspondence to bounce asundeliverable? Nope. And, if they don't have Power Point theycouldn't open the file anyway! Never assume your potentialcustomers have the software you do to open any file you mayarbitrarily send.
If you need to send a file over 200,000 in size, businesscourtesy dictates you ask the recipient first if it is O.K. tosend a large file. Next, confirm they have the same software and version you do and what is the best time of day to sent it to them to ensure they are available to download the large file and keep their e-mail flowing. Do not send large attachments without warning, on weekends or after business hours when the recipient may not be there to clear out their inbox and keep their e-mail flowing.
7. Using Previous E-mail for New Correspondence: If you want togive the perception of lazy, find a previous e-mail from theparty you want to communicate with, hit reply and start typingabout something completely irrelevant to the old e-mail'ssubject. Always start a new e-mail and add your contacts to your address book so you can add them to a new e-mail with one click.
8. Down Edit Your Replies: Don't just hit reply and start typing. Editing is a skill those you communicate with will appreciate as it lends to reflecting a respect for their time and clarity in your communications. Removing parts of the previous e-mail that do not apply to your response including e-mail headers and signature files removes the clutter. In addition, by making the effort to reply point by point keeps the conversation on track with fewer misunderstandings.
9. Common Courtesy: Hello, Hi, Good Day, Thank You, Sincerely,Best Regards. All those intros and sign offs that are a stapleof professional business communications should also be used inyour business e-mail communications. Always have a salutationand sign off with every e-mail. Here again - think businessletterhead.
10. Signature files: Keep your signature files to no more than5-6 lines as this can be viewed as a bit egocentric. Limit yoursignature to your Web site link, company name, and slogan/offeror phone number. Include a link to your site where the recipient can get all your contact information from A-Z - that is what your site is for.
Don't forget to include the "http://" when including your Website address within e-mails and your signature file to ensure itis recognized as a clickable URL regardless of the user'ssoftware or platform.
The above Top 10 items will certainly allow your businesscommunications to rise above the majority who do not take thetime to understand and master these issues. When forging newbusiness relationships and solidifying established partnerships,the level of professionalism and courtesy you relay in yourbusiness e-mail communications will always gain clients over thecompetition that may be anemic, uninformed or just plain lazy inthis area. Went it comes to business, regardless of mode ofcommunication used, professionalism and courtesy never go out ofstyle.
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