The website Fairygodboss.com is the largest career community for women. In addition to posting jobs at companies that want to hire women, the site has a lot of content valuable to job seekers as well as people looking to grow and hone their skills, some of which is gender neutral. They recently published a piece which had some great points about email etiquette that we thought was worth sharing.
Email has become an even more important means of communication as we have fewer face-to-face interactions. As a result, your emails have become an even greater reflection of who you are and how you want to be perceived. According to Laura Berlinsky-Shine, the author of the article, “Ultimately, following these rules will help you come across as more professional, respectful, and polite, as well as prevent you from committing an email faux pas or having miscommunication occur.”
Always, always proofread
Before you hit the send button, read your email over. Then read it again. Don’t rely on spell check or tools like Grammarly to do the job for you — although they can certainly help you catch errors.
Ensure your email address is professional
Still using your email address from middle school — something like firstname.lastname@example.org? It’s time to stop. If you’re writing to the recipient regarding something related to the organization where you work, then use your company-issued email address. If you don’t have one, create a Gmail address that’s your first name and last name or first initial and last name. You can also set up one with your name @ your website.
Be mindful of cultural differences
A lack of awareness of cultural differences can result in problems — sometimes huge ones — and miscommunication. While you can’t have firsthand knowledge of how every culture communicates, be mindful of how something you’re saying might be perceived from a different perspective. If you’re doing business with someone based in another country, you should do a little research to ensure you’re not unintentionally committing a faux pas.
Craft a professional signature
For business communication, you should have a standard signature. But don’t get too creative with it — or make it go on too long. It should have your basic contact information: your full name, your job title, your business’ name (if applicable), your business website (if applicable) and your phone number. Your company may ask you to include a specific tagline or promotion at the bottom, too. If appropriate, you might include your LinkedIn profile, but try to keep your signature concise.
Include a succinct, to-the-point subject line
It’s best practice to include a subject line with your email. It should be clear from the subject line what your recipient should expect when they open the email. Some examples include:
“Confirming appointment on 1/7”
“Question about our meeting”
Get to the point quickly
The recipient should know why you’re writing to them within the first two sentences. Otherwise, they might stop reading.
Keep the entire email short and to-the-point. A rambling, meandering email will confuse and lose your reader. Show them that you value their time by being brief.
Make sure you’re sending your email to the correct person
We opened this list with a reminder to proofread your email several times. That goes for the recipient’s email address, too. I’ve received emails that were intended for others (in some cases ones I certainly shouldn’t have seen), and I’m sure you have, too — just as many of us have accidentally sent an email to the wrong person. This can have serious consequences. So, before you send it off, make absolutely certain your email is going to the right person and that their address is spelled correctly.
Forward with caution
Make sure you’re not sending something sensitive to someone who shouldn’t see it. Also, carefully read through the entire chain before passing it along, because you could find yourself in hot water if you’ve forgotten about something you or someone else wrote that the third party shouldn’t see.
Take a breath before emailing when you’re upset or angry
We all get upset or angry at times, and it’s tempting to take to our phones or laptops and send off a rage-filled message telling someone off. Before you do that, take a breath. Expressing your anger when you’re wound up will only come back to haunt you later. Ensure you’ve calmed down enough to have the conversation before you start it.
Consider writing out what you want to say to get out your feelings on paper as a release. Just make sure you don’t risk hitting send; you might want to write it in a separate document.
These rules are essential to make you a highly professional and effective email communicator.
From If You Don’t Follow These 30 Email Rules, You’re Ruining Your Professional Reputation by Laura Berlinsky-Shine on fairygodboss.com.