Knowing how to send a proper, professional email can go a long way.
Many of your favorite business owners have developed unique strategies for dealing with email. Take Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He forwards complaint and pressing emails by adding just one character, a “?” By adding his signature question mark, Bezos’ employees know when the email is urgent and respond to it right away.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has come up with a strategy to receive less email that’s so simple you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before. By writing an email only when he absolutely needs to, he receives less email in return. Similarly, BirchBox co-founder Katia Beauchamp asks everyone who sends her an email to include a response deadline so she can easily prioritize emails.
Whatever the strategy, everyone who manages a crowded email inbox needs to know how to write them to get what they want and to get their message across. Here are six things not to do if you want people to take you seriously over email.
Writing Too Casually or Too Professionally
Tone is one of the most important things to understand about sending and receiving emails. If you don’t know your audience, it is easy to take on an overly casual or excessively formal tone. Either can put off your reader.
However, when emailing supervisors in a professional setting, it’s too casual to say, “Hey, y’all, what’s up?” When your recipients don’t take you seriously, they’ll feel like they can ignore your email. Similarly, if you use too formal of an address and not enough personality in an email to a close colleague or partner, you risk alienating them.
Using Inappropriate Subject Lines
There are many ways to go wrong with email subject lines. First, a vague subject line such as “Hello” forces the receiver to open the email with no idea what it could be about. That approach annoys a lot of busy people who just want to sift through their emails and get to the point.
Another subject line mistake is not including a subject at all, thus leaving your coworker or client completely in the dark. They are far less likely to respond or even open an email without a subject line.
Another annoying subject line problem is starting a sentence in the subject line, then continuing it in the body of the email. Not only does this tactic make the email difficult to understand, but also leads to annoyance. The goal of emails is to be quick and easy, rather than puzzling and time-consuming.
Having an Unprofessional Email Address
As soon as you enter the professional world, the first thing you must do is get a professional email address. Using your corny email address from high school or even college will get you very few email responses. Just changing your email address will go a long way toward making you seem polished and professional.
Sending Personal Emails
A couple of personal emails to your closest coworkers are OK. However, as mentioned earlier, everyone in the working world gets a ton of emails and does not have time to respond to your personal emails.
If you’ve sent a ton of personal emails, your coworkers may start to ignore your messages and miss an important work-related email.
Sending “Urgent” Emails
Do not use “urgent” emails constantly. Know when an email is urgent, and know when it won’t hurt to wait for a response. Yes, the first few “urgent” emails you send may get quick responses, but once your coworkers or clients realize you use the “urgent” email subject line more often than not, they will ignore your emails.
Yes, email is more casual than writing a formal business letter. However, a quick spell-check is an easy way to sound more professional in your emails. Leaving typos in is sloppy, and if you do get a response, the sender is likely not to take you seriously. Use easy apps such as Grammarly to check your grammar and spelling.
Don’t forget to double-check that you’ve spelled everyone’s names right. There’s no excuse for misspelling someone’s name, especially when you can see the recipients’ names spelled correctly in the email header.
Always take a breath and look over an email before you push “send.”
Simple Steps Go a Long Way
It is easy to fire off an email and later realize you left in a typo or spelled the recipient’s name wrong.
Take simple steps to help yourself sound more professional, set yourself apart from less responsible email senders—and get you the responses you need and deserve.