Basics of Effective Electronic Communication

Email has become an irrefutably essential tool for swift and efficient communication in today’s highly digital society, especially for business owners.

Time is entirely too limited and valuable.

Using Email to communicate quickly while on the move or multi-tasking seems like a no-brainer.

Messages regarding booking new jobs, connecting with old clients or conversing with employees can be sent and received in a matter of minutes.

Utilizing Email for communication can help your business to run smoothly by saving you time and energy. However, if not approached and crafted properly, your Email correspondences could be sending out the wrong message about you or your business.

The following tips on etiquette in electronic communication will ensure that all of your business Emails are clear, competent and received successfully.

Include:

An E-mail Subject
This first, vital step will set the tone for the rest of your Email. The subject of any message should be brief and directly indicative of what the rest of the Email will concern. An Email subject like “A Question for You” is much more vague and less informative than a subject such as “Question on Presentation Materials.”

A Proper Salutation
You should never begin an Email without a clear, appropriate greeting, such as “Dear, Hello or To Whom It May Concern.” Starting a message with the first sentence of the Email body seems rushed and unprofessional. In a business-related Email, addressing your audience with “Mr. or Ms.” is typically recommended. You may move to a first name basis after repeated contact, but sticking to this rule initially will ensure that you are maintaining your sense of professionalism.

Your Name and Title
Identification is important. If you do not explain who you are and on whose behalf you are writing, a reader may be quick to dismiss the message. When sending a business-related Email, it is advisable to communicate using an Email address that includes your name or your business name, as it gives more credibility to your purpose.

The Purpose for Writing
After introducing yourself to the reader, the next step is to explain why you are writing. The message should be concise, uncomplicated, and to the point. The purpose for writing should be clearly spelled out immediately following your introduction. Any relevant details can be explained after stating your purpose for writing. Additionally, if a response or action is required on the part of the reader, this should be spelled out at the end of the Email body.

A Detailed Signature
A signature will be the finishing touch on your Email and is often where readers will look if they want to reach out after reading the message. An effective signature for a business Email should contain an appropriate closing salutation, such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards,” and include your full name, title, organization, and phone number. It might also be helpful to include a fax number or company website as well.

Exclude:

An Information Overload
Keep your messages focused on one issue at a time. Addressing too many points in one e-mail might overwhelm the reader, making him or her more likely to abandon the message. Often times, if an Email includes multiple questions, your reader may respond to one point, but ignore another. Sending separate Emails about multiple issues is more effective than sending one message overloaded with information.

Nicknames, Slang, Business Lingo or Abbreviations
When crafting an Email, your ultimate goal should be ensuring that your audience receives and understands the message as clearly as possible. Using nicknames, slang, business lingo or any other abbreviations with which your audience may not be familiar can lead to confusion on the part of the reader, especially if you are writing to a consumer who is not familiar with industry terminology.

Angry Emails
Work can undoubtedly become frustrating at times, however, it is important to keep these frustrations out of your Email correspondences. Once you send an angry or negative Email, there is no way to get that message back. Another error commonly made when communicating electronically is writing in all capital letters, which is generally considered to be the equivalent of yelling. Be sure to take the time to review what you are sending and consider how your audience is going to react to the message.

Remember:

To Edit Your Emails
No Email should be sent without proofreading the text you have written. Regardless of what type of business you are running, adhering to the general standards of grammar, spelling, and punctuation is absolutely vital to guarantee successful communication. An unedited Email filled with typographical and grammatical errors indicates that the author did not put any thought or effort into the creation of that message.

To Keep Your Messages Neat and Tidy
What your message looks like on the reader’s screen has a significant impact on how your reader will respond. We recommend using a clear, simple, black font such as Time New Roman or Arial at 12-14 point. Often times, people skim Emails rather than reading them in detail, so breaking up the text using bullets and spacing will make the message more reader-friendly. Creating a bullet list is often more effective than writing a lengthy paragraph, as an important point can often be missed in a large block of text.

To Manage Your Inbox
An unruly Inbox is one of the precursors to unsuccessful electronic communication. If your Inbox is overflowing with read and unread messages, the likelihood of missing an important message is increased. Use folders to save and organize your Emails once they are read, sort your Emails by priority to ensure the most urgent matters are handled first, and set reminders for yourself to complete important tasks. Keeping your Email organized will help you handle communications more efficiently.

The effort you put into writing business Emails can be indicative of the care you put into all of your business endeavors.

Be sure to make the right impression on your employees, customers, and colleagues by crafting understandable, thoughtful, effective electronic correspondences.



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