As I said in Part I, e-mail is magic! Instant communication at its best…but also its worst. It can smooth your way or complicate a situation. It is a reflection of your professionalism. Following are a few tips on how to use e-mail to your advantage – and how to look good doing it!
Use the “Subject” line to get the readers’ attention. Replace vague lines (“Information on 123 Elm Street” or “Info”) with better “hooks”: “Counteroffer #2 on 123 Elm Street,” or “Analysis of recent problems with 123 Elm Street.” And always use a subject – it’s a timesaver if you need to find your e-mail later and helps to identify you to your recipient. Also, a subject will help get your e-mail delivered – did you know that most e-mails with the subject line “Hi” are tagged as spam and are automatically sent to spam filters?
Proofread before you hit “Send”!
Even simple typos will make you look sloppy and damage your professional credibility.
Don’t “spam” your readers. Don’t send them unnecessary or frivolous messages. Soon, they’ll quit opening any message from you.
Think twice before you hit “Send”!
Reading your e-mail through the eyes of the recipient will help you send a more effective message and avoid misunderstandings and inappropriate comments.
Don’t forward chain letter virus warnings. You can safely assume they are all hoaxes, especially the ones that say “I heard this from the IT Manager at a major company” or “this has been confirmed by Snopes” and “forward this to everybody in your address book.” If the content really worries you, send it to your IT Department (me!) and let me research it for you before you send it to anyone else.
Read it again before you hit “Send”!
Did you really mean to sound so angry/impatient/frustrated? Will that help the situation?
Don’t forward chain letters. Do you really like to receive them? If you really want to forward them, give your recipients the opportunity to opt out. Many people have barely enough time and patience to wade through the business e-mails they receive. If a constant stream of jokes from a friend annoys you, be honest and ask to be removed from the list.
Hesitate before you hit “Send”! E-mail isn’t always private. Did you write anything that would be better conveyed face to face?
Be brief, and informal is okay. But sloppy is not! Remember upper and lower case, grammar and spelling. Your writing is a reflection of YOU.
Don’t hit “Send” yet! As soon as you do, your recipient will have a written record from you. Are your facts correct?
Your “tone” may not be conveyed the way you intended. Have you ever attempted sarcasm in an e-mail, and the recipient took it the wrong way? E-mail communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication. In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons, but use them sparingly so that you don't appear unprofessional. Also, don't assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message.
Don’t send huge attachments. Reduce any photos, flyers, etc to a manageable size before sending. A couple of large attachments, or photos straight off a digital camera (which are huge until you reduce them), can quickly fill up an e-mail box.
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