Do you show a blatant disregard for your contact’s privacy? Do you send group e-mails with long lists of addresses visible in the To: or Cc: fields? Is the only thing that list of folks have in common is you?
We’ve all had this happen to us. We receive messages or forwarded e-mail from business contacts listing all those they are sending to in the To: or Cc: field. By doing so they are exposing their contact’s e-mail addresses to strangers!
Some have commented “no big deal” or that business e-mails are pretty much public so no harm no foul. Another excuse I’ve been given is “we all want as much exposure for our businesses that we can get, right?” Wrong.
E-mail addresses are a bit different in that once circulated, the spam starts flowing in. Speaking for myself, I don’t want anyone to publish my e-mail address to those I don’t know without knowing the how, when and where.
Of course this doesn’t include meetings, agendas, plans or collaboration where a handful of folks need to know who is involved. In that case, they either talked on the phone or know the group involved in the mailing by virtue of previous conversations.
It is not proper e-mail etiquette, or business courtesy, to expose contact information of any kind to strangers. As general guideline, when you have a long list of contacts, use the BCc: to keep your e-mail professional in appearance and to avoid the risk of unappreciated exposure.
Those who have been on the receiving end of such e-mail have two issues of concern:
- How do I let this person know I don’t appreciate them publicizing my e-mail address to people I don’t know? What were they thinking!?
- Is it okay to e-mail all the other people whose address is in the To: or Cc: field about my business or service?
Your contacts most likely do not appreciate their addresses being exposed to those they do not know without their permission. There will be those who exploit that visibility and you will be the cause. This is not solid ground to form long-term partnerships, don’t you agree?
- When sending to a group of business onliners, put your e-mail address in the To: field and your list of addresses in the BCc: field to protect those e-mail addresses from unnecessary exposure.
- Never assume you can contact visible addresses about unrelated issues/topics/ventures because they are visible in an e-mail also sent to you!
Many comment they don’t know where to find the BCc: in their e-mail programs. There’s an article for that…
I use PostBox (highly recommended) where I can easily engage the BCc: field from a drop-down box to input e-mail addresses. However, for other software and Web-based sites, do a quick search for BCc: in the help field or check your software provider’s online knowledge base so you know where and how to use the BCc: on future group mailings.
Protecting your contact’s privacy is something they will certainly appreciate. Wherever BCc: may hide, find it and use it!