Resolutions abound at this time of year. In this case I prefer to call them tips. We aren’t really resolving to do anything, we just need a little nudge on what we can do better.
Who isn’t interested in tips that can enhance your business success, right? That is why every year I review and revise this post to give you a running start (or a needed reminder) as we go for all the opportunity in front of us in the new year ahead.
Email is a viable and serious communication tool that can impact your business’ brand. There is also the added benefit from Social Media and texting as business communication tools. That is when used properly.
Whether it be email, social media, groups, community forums or texting, all offer more exposure and opportunity to form a professional impression. Let’s not waste that opportunity.
Positive branding with every keystroke.
Those who see your communications on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or in an introductory email will form an impression. You have total control over what that impression will be. About you and your business based on how you choose to use technology.
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 Email & Technology Etiquette
While email as now been around for decades, there are always ways for those using it for commercial gain to hone their skills. Speaking for myself, I am always on a quest to be a better communicator and technology user.
No matter how busy or stressed you may be, every email you send, every tweet or post you create, should be though of as though it is on old-fashioned company letterhead. Picturing this scenario can help you determine the right approach, formality and format for the topic and audience at hand.
Greetings and Closings Relay Formality
Formal greetings and cordial closings show that you understand common courtesies and are a professional communicator. This effort also helps to avoid your emails from being perceived as demanding or terse.
For example you would probably use different greetings and closings with a new client compared to what you will use with a co-worker. Always err on the side of formality in lieu of being too informal with those you’ve yet to solidify a professional relationship.
In the Office
Be very respectful about how you use your employer’s technology resources. 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 these 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 email policy in place — why not? Put this on your to do list for the new year and and review it with your employees pronto.
Clarity in Communications
Always make the effort to down-edit your emails. Do this by removing any text that is not relevant 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. Instantly adding clarity to your communications.
Create sentences that are complete, capitalized and include proper grammar and punctuation. This goes for texting (as best as you can), Twitter and Facebook too. Every single keystroke reflects on your business.
The fact is educated professionals communicate in an educated professional manner regardless of venue (or device). Make sure that your intent and tone is clear whether it be a text, Tweet or a Facebook comment will contribute to a positive impression of your business.
Making these efforts will certify that communicating with you is easy and reliable. With the added benefit of helping to avoid misunderstandings.
Staying On Topic
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 email is about.
We’ve all had email threads where the topic changes and the email subject is no longer apropos. Nothing like trying to find those details in an email thread after the fact with an unrelated Subject: field.
When I have an ongoing thread that changes direction, I change the Subject: field to match the new direction. This also allows the separate threads to be easily referred to in the future.
Get the Emails You Want
When registering on a website, for a newsletter or sending an inquiry to a new business partner, add that site or individual’s email address to your address book and white list or approved senders list right then and there. This is a good habit to get into.
Doing so 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. Put a little suggestion to do so on the thank you page that displays after forms are submitted through your website.
Before jumping to the conclusion that contacts have not responded to your inquiries, first check your spam/junk/trash folders. You’ll be surprised what you may find there. Then whitelist immediately so you don’t have to worry about this in the future.
When it comes to texting, how and when (or even if) you text for business can impact your professional relationships. Never assume that texting new contacts is acceptable. Or worse, doing so outside of business hours.
I have an entire article on just that for your review…. Business Texting Etiquette: 10 Tips for Professionals
Privacy and Liability
When sending or forwarding to a group of contacts, always 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 email addresses that “need to know”. Never use Cc: or BCc: to CYA for e-tattling purposes or worse, being a gossip. You end up creating increased and unnecessary emails to others. (And you look petty.)
To avoid serious liability and trust concerns, do not post or forward emails sent to you privately. Never post private communications to public forums or to a third-parties without the original sender’s permission. This applies to forwarding coworker or subordinate communications without a valid business reason to do so.
Data Allowances and Resources
We just don’t know where we are sending attachments. What if they are being forwarded to a cell or an account with limited resources? This is why you always want to ask first when would be the best time to send before sending unannounced large attachments.
It is also a good idea to inquire 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 large attachments to business contacts outside of business hours when they are unavailable to keep their inbox clear. Better yet, use a service like DropBox for humongous files.
Simple Efforts Produce Prosperous Results
Your business email activity and technology use is all about forming mutually beneficial relationships. These efforts will portray what a professional trustworthy partner you will be to do business with.
Now, go use this knowledge to your advantage. Wishing you all a prosperous New Year!