Make your emails work for you
My email account was hijacked. All 125 contacts were sent a bogus email about my being stranded in Spain. My credit cards were stolen, the embassy was no help, phones disconnected… Many recipients had never received such an email and were actually going to send money -- except the tip-off was the careless use of grammar, especially the last line: Thanks and hoping to read from you soon. Neglecting to proofread spoiled their plan!
The lesson here is that you want to take as much care with business emails as you would for a letter on linen stationery even to your colleagues. Read it over two or three times before hitting Send. Using spell check is not enough.
- Make the subject line attention grabbing and to the point: First planning meeting for convention set or Brent, please advise.
- Change the subject line in subsequent emails if the topic changes rather than hitting Reply and keeping the same subject line. This makes it easy for people to retrieve information later.
- Delete trailing emails if they don't involve the new recipients. It's not their business.
- Start with an appropriate salutation using the person's name not Hey, Lady!
- You won't be taken seriously if you overuse exclamation marks !!!, question marks ??? and emoticons J. USING ALL CAPS FEELS LIKE SHOUTING.
- Keep it short so it fits on the screen. Cut out any word, phrase or sentence that's not absolutely necessary.
- Regardless of your employment status, use a signature block at the end of your email: Name, title and company if employed, email, phone, LinkedIn address.
- Use email for information only. If the topic is at all emotionally charged (you're angry, resentful, have hurt feelings or a defensive tone), save it for a voice-to-voice or face-to-face conversation.
- Remember that email is not confidential. Do not include anything you wouldn't want to see on a postcard.
Even though we fire off tons of emails, it's the carefully crafted and proofread ones that get the attention. Don't let your plan be spoiled by careless content!
Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG alumni career counselor, has more than 15 years of experience in career development and corporate management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.