You new it was coming, right? Resolutions abound at this time of year. The fact is none are as important as those that can enhance your business success! That is why every year I review and revise this post to give you a running start (or a needed reminder) for the year ahead!
E-mail is still a viable and serious communication tool that can enhance — or doom — your business brand. 2017 was even bigger for Social Media and texting as beneficial business tools. That is when used properly. I’m sure you’ve witnessed some epic fails in this regard too.
Whether it be e-mail, social media, forums or texting all offer more exposure and opportunity to form a professional impression. Unfortunately, in 2017 I’ve witnessed just as many faux pas as I did successes.
It’s called positive branding with every keystroke!
Those who see your communications on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or in an introductory e-mail will form an impression about you and your business based on how you choose to use technology – positive and negative alike. Commit to improving in these areas and you may find your business communication activities are more enjoyable as well as more profitable and effective.
Business E-mail Etiquette
Resolutions for 2018
- No matter how busy or stressed you may be, every e-mail you send will include a proper greeting and closing which includes your name. Nice greetings and closings show that you understand common courtesies and are a professional communicator. This effort also helps to avoid your e-mails from being perceived as demanding or terse.
- How you forward e-mails can make or break you! Do not forward an e-mail unless it specifically applies to the person you are sending to. In business, always refrain from forwarding political or controversial topics. Including a personal note to the recipient so they know why you are forwarding that particular e-mail to them is a must. When sending or forwarding to a group of contacts, use the BCc: field to protect their privacy. Especially if your contacts have not yet formally been introduced. Use the Cc: and BCc: features prudently including only e-mail addresses that “need to know”. Never use Cc: or BCc: to CYA for e-tattling purposes or worse, being a gossip, thereby creating increased and unnecessary e-mails to others. (And you looking petty.)
- Always make the effort to down-edit your e-mails, in lieu of just top posting, by removing any text that is irrelevant to the ongoing conversation. Down-editing allows you to address inquiries point by point while helping to avoid misunderstandings. Your contacts will know exactly what your comments are in response to which will add clarity to your communications.
- Take the time to make sure that sentences are complete, capitalized and include proper grammar and punctuation. This goes for texting (as best as you can), Twitter and Facebook too! Educated professionals communicate in an educated professional manner regardless of venue (or device). Taking the extra time to make sure that your intent and tone is clear whether it be a text, Tweet or a Facebook comment can contribute to a positive impression of your business. Making these efforts will certify that communicating with you is easy and reliable while having the added benefit of helping to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Refrain from sending unannounced large attachments of any kind without asking first when would be the best time to send them and what format the recipient would prefer. This extra step helps to make sure the other side has the necessary software to view your files. Never send unannounced large attachments to business contacts outside of business hours when they are unavailable to keep their inbox clear.
- The Subject: field should always include a brief and concise description of the content within. When a conversation has moved off the original topic, change the Subject: field when necessary to better reflect what your e-mail is about. This was a big one in 2017 that drove me crazy! Nothing like trying to find details in a conversation in an e-mail thread that has an unrelated Subject: field. I’m going to be even more aggressive with this approach in the year ahead to make my life easier.
- To avoid serious liability and trust concerns do not post or forward e-mails sent to you privately in a public forum or to a third-party without the original sender’s permission. This applies to forwarding coworker or subordinate communications without a valid business reason to do so.
- Be very respectful about how you use your employer’s technology resources understanding they are paying the bills and you are on their time. This includes not sending personal texts, Tweets or visiting Facebook on business time unless those activities are specifically part of your job description. Make a point of reviewing your employer’s policies so you are clear of what is allowed. If you are an employer, no matter your size, and still do not have a formal e-mail policy in place — why not?! Put this on your to do list and and review it with your employees.
- When registering at a website, for a newsletter or sending an inquiry to a new business partner, taking the time to add that site or individual’s e-mail address to your address book, white list or approved senders list in a good habit to get into. This will help to make sure that the response to your inquiry can get through any spam blocking software or tools that are in place. Be sure to ask your site visitors to do the same. Refrain from jumping to the conclusion that contacts have not responded to your inquiries without checking your junk/trash folders first.
- When it comes to texting, how and when (or even if) you text for business can impact your professional relationships. I’ve got an entire article on just that for your review…. Business Texting Etiquette: 10 Tips for Professionals
Your business e-mail activity is all about forming mutually beneficial relationships and “communicating with the knowledge, understanding and courtesy” necessary to portray what a professional trustworthy partner you will be to do business with. Use this knowledge to your advantage!
Wishing you all a prosperous New Year!