In the course of the business day, responding to emails is a necessity in the electrical distribution world. But taking the time to type out a thoughtful, polite reply to each one can eat up a lot of time. While it would be convenient to use Google’s Smart Reply or one of the other auto-generated response tools on the market, relying on these features tends to remove any sort of personality from your email conversations and can reduce the connection you have with customers and business contacts you correspond with. While there is a time and a place for quick, casual responses to professional emails, often this approach can lead to miscommunication and potentially do more harm than good.
We’ll explore some best practices for keeping emails proper and professional by looking at some common dos and don’ts to help make your email communications smooth and effective.
Do: Use Proper Salutation – Opening an email with “hi” or “hey” might be OK for colleagues you’re friendly with, but for new contacts, experts advise beginning your email with a proper, respectful salutation, such as “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good evening” or “hello.”
Do: Proofread – Before you send, make sure to carefully proofread and edit your email. You should look for misspellings, homonyms, grammar, and punctuation errors. Careless email mistakes make the sender look sloppy to recipients of the message. Typos and errors project an unprofessional element and reduce the likelihood that the email will be taken seriously. Most modern email platforms come with proofing tools to spell-check and review your email for clarity prior to sending.
Do: Be Concise – It’s always best to keep your emails short and sweet. Emails are not meant to be as brief as text messages, but they are considered to be a form of quick communication. If your email is too wordy, try editing it down to make it more concise. Be economical with words and leave out anything that doesn’t contribute to the conversation or furthering your relationship with the recipient.
Do: Keep Calm – Never send any email while you are angry or conflicted. Instead, try to cool down and then speak to the person you need to address face to face or over the phone. Thinking twice about sending an “emotional” email could help you avoid any unnecessary conflicts that could jeopardize your relationship with the recipient.
Don’t: Overuse Acronyms & Buzzwords – Acronyms and buzzwords can confuse recipients and make you look unprofessional. Stick to writing out full words and use layman’s terms to get your point across, although exceptions can be made depending on whom you’re emailing. For example, acronyms may be acceptable in an internal email, but any email you send – especially to customers – should be written in language that’s easy for all to understand.
Keep it Professional – Emails can be shared quickly and easily. There are consequences to sending something inappropriate or disparaging others in lasting, digital communications. Avoid embarrassment (or worse, losing your job) by making sure you use your company’s email platform in a professional manner. Email correspondence is permanent. If/when you say something inappropriate or negative in an email, it’s too easy for it to be forwarded and have it end up being read by someone for whom it was not intended.
Don’t: Punctuate Poorly – When you’re writing a professional email, keep the exclamation marks to a minimum. Keep your punctuation professional unless you’re friendly with the intended recipient.
Don’t: Forget the Conversation Closer – End your email with a closing such as “best regards,” “sincerely,” “thank you,” or another appropriate phrase. It wraps up the conversation and lets the recipient know if a response is necessary or expected. Prior to signing off is also a good opportunity to include any action items or expectations for next steps.
What would you like to see your colleagues and business associates do differently with their email correspondence? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.