Resolutions abound at this time of year. In this case, I prefer to call them tips. We aren’t resolving to do anything; we just need a little nudge to 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 opportunities in front of us in the new year ahead.
Yes, 2021 was barely better than 2020—lots of businesses are still trying super hard to survive. And the way it’s looking, 2022 may not be all that better.
Regardless, for those looking, there are always opportunities around every corner. So let’s ensure that your business technology and email skills will enhance rather than hamper those opportunities.
Email is a viable and serious communication tool that can impact your brand. There is also the added benefit of Social Media and texting as business communication tools. All these tools, when used correctly, positively impact your bottom line.
Email, social media, groups, community forums, or texting offer more exposure and the opportunity to form a positive professional impression. So let’s make sure we do that with every effort and keystroke.
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 Etiquette & Letterhead
While email has been around for decades, there are always ways for those using it to hone their skills for commercial gain. Speaking for myself, I always quest to be a better communicator and technology user.
No matter how busy or stressed you might be, every email you send, every tweet or post you create, should be thought of as though it is on old-fashioned company letterhead. Picturing this scenario can help you determine the right approach, formality, tone, 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 prevent your emails from being perceived as demanding or terse.
For example, you would probably use different greetings and closings with a new client than with a coworker. Always err on the side of formality instead of being too informal with those you’ve yet to solidify a professional relationship.
In the Office
Be incredibly 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. Stop right now and make a point of reviewing your employer’s policies, so you are clear of what is allowed and expected.
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 review it with your employees pronto. Need an example policy? I provide one in my eBook.
Clarity in Communications
Always make an effort to down-edit your ongoing email conversations. Do this by removing any text relevant to the continuing discussion. 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 clarifying your communications—no more wasted time on unnecessary misunderstandings.
Create complete, capitalized sentences, 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). Therefore, making sure that your intent and tone are clear, no matter the platform, will contribute to a positive impression of your business.
You can accomplish this by reading your text out loud before clicking Send. With these efforts, you will certify that communicating with you is easy and reliable, along with the added benefit of helping to avoid misunderstandings.
Staying On Topic
Subject: fieldThe Subject: field should always include a brief and concise description of the content within. The Subject: field is often the catalyst as to even if your email gets opened.
When a conversation has moved off the original topic, change the Subject: field. You want the Subject to reflect what your current communication is about.
We’ve all had email threads where the topic changes, and the email subject is no longer apropos. There is nothing like trying to find those details in an email thread, after the fact, with an unrelated Subject: field. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty darned frustrating — and inefficient.
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 website URL or email address to your address book, white list, or approved senders list right then and there. This is definitely a good habit to get into.
Doing so will help make sure that the response to your inquiry can get through any spam blocking software or tools in place. Be sure to ask your site visitors to do the same. You can do this easily by adding a little suggestion text on the thank you page that displays after forms are submitted through your website. For example:
“Stop right now and add my email address to your approved senders/whitelist: you at your dot com.”
Before jumping to the conclusion that contacts have not responded to your inquiries, first check your spam/junk/trash folders. If you have webmail, check your quarantine folder as well. You may be surprised what you may find there. Then, whitelist immediately so you don’t have to worry about this in the future.
How and when (or even if) you text for business can impact your professional relationships when it comes to texting. 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 those contacts’ 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 appear petty.)
To avoid severe liability and trust concerns, do not post or forward emails sent to you privately. Likewise, never post private communications to public forums or third parties without the original sender’s permission. This applies to forwarding coworker or subordinate communications without a valid business reason.
Data Allowances and Resources
We just don’t know where the attachments we send will end up. What if the recipient is forwarding 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 any large attachments.
It is also good to inquire what format the recipient would prefer. This extra step helps 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 may be 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 are all about forming mutually beneficial and respectful business relationships. These simple efforts will portray what a professional, trustworthy partner you will be to do business with.
Who doesn’t want to do business with those who make doing so easy and efficient? Now, go use this knowledge to your advantage. Wishing you all a prosperous New Year!