Professional Email Etiquette
Verbal and written communication affects our reputations as professionals and businesses. As a student, professional, or business owner, your email professionalism could make or break an opportunity for you.
Those who receive your emails can either be impressed or turned off based on your writing abilities, clarity of writing, promptness in responding, and savviness to utilize an email signature.
So read below how you can improve your writing and improve your professional reputation.
If you need help with professional email writing or your job inquiry emails,
Check out The Email Template resource!
PROFESSIONAL EMAIL WRITING HINTS
These hints and examples apply to students and professionals. Some may seem like common sense etiquette, but unfortunately, I am listing them because I have received these mistakes or even made them in the past.
#1 When in Doubt, Be Professional
Students, no matter how casual, relaxed, or friendly a professional is when they email you, you need to remain professional. You need to reply promptly, be appreciative for all that they share with you, and address them in every email.
Watch for how a professional signs their name at the bottom of the email - they will let you know what they prefer to be called. If you are in college, always address them formally with Mr., Ms. (if you don’t know if she is married), Mrs., Dr., Rev., or Professor. When in doubt, ask them how they would like to be addressed. They will be impressed that you asked!
Avoid Emojis and exclamation points and write complete sentences.
And if you have never met them in person, do not write like you speak.
Ex. “Yay! So excited to meet you!”
Do not use color text or stylized fonts in your email body. (please never use Comic Sans)
Do not fill your emails with excuses. No one wants to hear your excuses. They want you to own it, apologize, and improve.
#2 To vs. CC vs. BCC
To: Everyone can see the “To” field. This means you want them to respond to your email.
CC (Carbon Copy): Everyone can see this. This is more of an FYI option- they don’t need to respond but you want them to know of the email or information.
BCC (Blind CC): This protects the privacy of recipients. If you are emailing a large group of people, but they do not need to see each other’s email addresses, place them in the BCC field. Otherwise, don't use BCC. It can seem shady.
#3 Start Strong with a Subject Line:
ALWAYS include a subject line and make it specific to the content of your email. If an email does not have a subject line, it has higher chances of never being opened, not responded to, or lost.
It is harder to find an email if there is no subject line. Meaning a potential employer may not be able to find your resume and email from 2 months ago because your subject line wasn’t informative.
Example for Students:
“Summer 2018 Social Media Internship Inquiry – Eloise Stewart”
A subject line provides the recipient with a quick preview of what your email is about so they can prioritize their emails.
Avoid using “Urgent” or “Important” unless the emails are a pressing matter and you already know the recipient.
#4 Be Clear:
Everyone appreciates an organized email that gets right to the point. Break your text into smaller paragraphs – no one wants to read long paragraphs.
Consider numbering the main points of your email and bold the headers of each section. Ask your recipient to copy the sections and respond under each section in a new color.
Tell your recipients when and what you have attached. Email chains can get messy and attachments can get lost when people open emails on their phones.
#6 Watch Your Language:
I am not talking about cussing or crass words. I am talking about the use of emoji’s, exclamation points, abbreviations, small case and all caps.
Emojis: Females tend to use Emojis more than males. If you have never met the recipient of the email – NEVER use an emoji. If you know the recipient well, use your discretion when using Emojis. Sometimes Emojis can help with tone. Too often emails and texts can be taken with a negative tone if the sentences are short and direct. The use of an exclamation point or emoji once or twice can assist with the perceived tone.
Exclamation Points: Females – be careful with exclamation points. If you re-read your email and there is an exclamation point after every sentence – REDUCE! One exclamation point gets the point across!!!!!!! ;)
Abbreviations: Not everyone is a texting abbreviations master. Write out your words when professionally communicating via email.
Small case and ALL CAPS: Do not use small case for all your words – it appears lazy and unprofessional. All Caps is perceived as yelling – BE CAREFUL!
#7 Thank Them:
Begin or end by thanking your recipient in some way (as it pertains to your email conversation). Make it a habit to express gratitude to your co-workers, superiors, employees, professional acquaintances, etc.
Thankfulness affects your brand reputation more than you know. When a client is asking a lot of me or has changed their mind 5 times, I am happy to help if they are appreciative of my time, talent, and patience.
#8 Proof Read Your Email:
This is the most important hint of all.
Too often, I receive emails from business owners AND students that are confusing and full of mistakes. They are either writing like they speak or they have not taken the time to read over their emails and catch obvious, simple mistakes. When you have not proof read your emails, your professionalism and reputation are negatively affected.
Take the time and read back over your email.
1. If you have to read a sentence twice, it probably doesn’t make sense to others – rewrite it.
2. If you are known to be long winded (ramble or talk fast) when you talk, be mindful of the length of your sentences in your email. Break them up.
3. If you are known to be all over the place with your thoughts, organize your email with numbers or bullets.
4. If you struggle with correct grammar and spelling, I recommend using www.grammarly.com. There is a free version that you can download. It will proof your emails for you!
#9 Be Smart About Replying:
Reply vs. Reply All: Use discretion when replying in a group email. If your reply is private or sensitive, consider starting a new email and emailing that particular recipient. Email chains get messy when there are reply messages and reply all messages intertwined together.
Address those who need to respond to the group email. If 5 people are included in the email chain, but you only need an answer from 2 of them, address them for each question.
Tyler, what is the final head count for the event on Friday? Can you confirm by Tuesday afternoon?
Shelly, I will take care of the food and drink order once I know the head count from Tyler. What type of utensils, serving ware, paper products, and decorations do we still need for Friday? Please let me know by Tuesday afternoon as well.
#10 Create an Email Signature:
Students and Professionals,
You need an email signature! An email signature shows professionalism and provides useful information to the recipient. Create an email signature for your desktop and on your phone.
No one wants to see "Sent from Iphone".
Click here to learn how to create a customized and impressive email signature.
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