Because most business is done over the web and e-mail these days, it’s important to make sure you stay professional, prompt and poignant. Here are some tips to consider before you click “Send”.
Salutations: A great many discussions have been held about the correct or at least appropriate ways to end an e-mail. Do you go the formal route: sincerely? Or do you go the friendly route: cheers? Or how ’bout a simple thanks or best? Depending on the context of the e-mail and who you’re sending it too, each one could work. You just have to be careful about sounding too official, too cold, too casual or too cheesy. In general, though, cheers tends to be bit too casual, and its association with drinking isn’t overly embraced. Best and take care can come off sounding fake or insincere, so use them sparingly. Sincerely is appropriate for an e-mail that’s serious and/or official, while thanks and take care work well for more casual e-mails.
Salutations followed by a signature: As a professional – and even more so for an entrepreneur – you want the recipient to know your association and have your contact information. That’s why a standard and consistent signature is well suited. However, there are just as many people who include a salutation before the signature as those who don’t. Here’s the thing: Yes, a signature includes your name and is sufficient for ending an e-mail. But, it’s abrupt and can come off as rude if that’s all you leave them with. Many companies have signatures automatically included in outgoing e-mails. So to the recipient, no salutation says you don’t have the time or care to close the e-mail personally. Before you click send, add a quick “Take care, [insert your first name]” before your signature.
E-mailing from a smartphone: Obviously smartphones were made for e-mailing on the go, and they help busy professionals like you take your business on the road. However, every time you send an e-mail from it, you notify the person that you are in fact, not in your office and are typing your “professional” response to your client, supplier, partner, investor, what-have-you, by thumbs on your mini QWERTY keyboard. With every e-mail you create or reply to it includes the infamous “Sent from my [insert phone model here]” signature. To many, it says they’re only worth a quick note on a phone, rather than a longer, more thought out e-mail from a computer later. My suggestion: Turn off the feature, or send the e-mail from your computer.
The disclaimer on disclaimers: If your e-mail includes a lengthy disclaimer at the end, plan on losing your recipient in it. If there’s just as much disclaimer text in your e-mail as there is text from you, plan on said recipient missing out on some of the info that you actually want them to read. Sure, some companies require it and you don’t have control, but see if there’s any way you can edit it down or reduce the size of the font. Disclaimers become especially annoying when you have several back-and-forths via e-mail because it gets added to each one.
CC vs. BCC: Copying in recipients when you really should have blind copied them can be annoying – and even dangerous. I’ve seen many a PR rep send press releases or mass e-mails and include his or her press contacts in the CC line. Little do they know, they’ve just given all their valuable media contact information to other PR reps. And, should a person click “Reply All”, each one of those e-mail addresses (most times it’s in the double digits) is included in the text of the e-mail. So, if you’re sending a mass e-mail, but don’t want the recipients to know, use BCC. If you have a lot of people to CC, use BCC. If you have a high-profile contact list, use BCC. Get the gist?
Spell check, spell check, spell check: If you take anything with you from this article, take this one. Before you send your e-mail, make sure you run spell check. You wouldn’t believe the misspellings that slip through the cracks because people don’t run spell check. Every word processing program has spell check these days (either run automatically or manually), so there’s no excuse for misspellings, especially in a professional e-mail. Neglecting to run spell check leaves a bad impression, isn’t professional and says you don’t have the time or care to take that one quick step to clean up your speech. Misspellings could be detrimental, too; for example, inadvertently using profanity or vulgar language instead of the word you meant to use. Word and other programs have grammar check, too. Running that couldn’t hurt, though I know that requires a bit more time that you may not have. So that can slide.