A 2020 Guide to Professional Email Etiquette
Email remains a predominant form of communication for businesses, offering an easy and professional way in which we connect with colleagues, clients, customers, prospects and vendors. Crafting the perfect email message is undoubtedly nuanced, but strengthening your email etiquette could be a noteworthy change to reflect improvements in your professionalism and attitude. Use these adaptable email etiquette guidelines to refine your modern email communication and send a carefully curated message.
Crafting an appropriate subject line
Make sure the subject line of your email is relevant and clear — this way, the recipient is more likely to open and respond to you. Having a concise and direct subject line also helps when looking back to reference emails from the past.
Using vague subject lines like “Hello!” gives the recipient no insight into the content of your email, and depending on your industry, people that you email may have busy schedules and a constant influx of emails. The last thing a busy professional needs is a vague email — or an overly casual one.
Starting with a proper greeting
Like any other form of communication, knowing your audience is key. When greeting clients or prospects, especially for the first time, using “hey” as a greeting is too casual.
Opt for a professional greeting that evokes more sophistication. Something such as, “Good morning/evening/afternoon [first name],” is better for initial correspondence. More casual greetings should be reserved for more casual email correspondence. You have to strike a balance between an appropriate salutation that isn’t too old-fashioned, too eager, too stiff or too informal.
Hold back on emoji usage
While throwing a smiley face emoji in an email might seem like the way to go, assess the client, colleague or recipient of the email. Despite your level of comfort with whoever you’re emailing, it’s important to remain professional and simple in email. While it may be tempting to throw the small mail emoji into the subject line, opt out this time around until you get a feel for the tone of your recipient. When in doubt, emoji out.
Mention any attachments
While one may assume that an email recipient will find attachments on their own, always reference attachments if they’re included. You can simply say “Please find the documents attached.” Once again, making your email as clear and simple as possible is essential so don’t leave any room for questioning. Call out the attachment.
Don’t overlook the “Sent from my iPhone” signature
Similar to emoji use, whether to remove the “sent from my iPhone” signature depends on the audience of your email. If it’s a colleague, perhaps you don’t need to worry about that automatic signature. However, let’s say you’re emailing with a business prospect. Take a few seconds and delete that “sent via phone” or “sent from my iPhone” signature. Leaving this signature in may appear as lazy or a lack of effort on your part.
When you should hit “reply all”
Be cognizant of who was included in your emails. If there are multiple players in the loop, you’ll likely want to keep them as part of the conversation. The “Reply All” function is perfect for keeping the whole team in the know, and should be used when more than one person needs to stay informed. “Reply all” sends your email response to everyone in the “To” and “Cc” fields. Be prudent when using this function. The last thing you want is to send an email meant for one person, but ends up going to the entire team. When in doubt, “forward” the email to the specific person you’re looking for an individual response from.
The dangers of “reply all” extend to client relationships, too. There are some emails meant for client eyes and some meant for internal eyes only. If you’re sending project updates to both your coworkers and client, “reply all” would be appropriate. However, if there is a conflict or matter of internal concern, opt for the “reply” option. Don’t make a blunder sending an internal email to your prospective or long-standing client.
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