People often view email as a less formal means of communication.
This can be true when emailing family members and friends, but in my experience as a public relations professional, it is always better to veer more towards the formal side when reaching out to someone concerning business. Here are a few things to remember when communicating via email:
Pay Attention to Spelling and Grammar
We are accustomed to using abbreviations and shorthand when texting or communicating within the office; however this is not appropriate when emailing for business purposes. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Shorthands like “SRY” or “PLS” are often not taken seriously in an office setting. Present yourself via email in a way that lets the receiver know you are intelligent, professional and to be taken seriously.
Include a Subject Line
Always include a straightforward subject line that will clearly indicate to the receiver what the email entails. With an inbox overflowing with incoming messages, it is easy to overlook a vague email with no subject. By including a subject line, you will make it much easier for the receiver to get to your message, and there is a greater chance it will be read and replied to.
Address the Receiver by His or Her Name
I appreciate when businesses that reach out to me take the time to find out who I am and address me by name in their emails. Emails that just say “Hi” and continue with a message or start with “To Whom it May Concern” are impersonal and show a lack of initiative by the sender to do a little research. I am always more inclined to answer an email when it is addressed to me.
Use a Proper Sign-Off
I recommend setting an automatic signature to your email that contains your name, job title, company, phone number, email address and any other information that you would like the recipient to know or think they might need. This is extremely important, especially when communicating with someone new. Concluding with a proper sign-off leaves a good impression and allows the recipient to have a better understanding of who you are. By providing your phone number, email address, and even links to your social media accounts, the recipient will have many opportunities to get in touch with you as well as research your company and your work.
Warm It Up
Emails can easily feel impersonal and robotic. Don’t be afraid to add personality and emotions to your emails. If something excites you, add a couple exclamation marks. An email that portrays you as a friendly, yet serious business person will create a favorable impression. Just be careful not to overuse punctuation.
Bearing all of this in mind, determine the relationship you have with the person you are emailing. If you have been doing business with someone for many years and have developed a good relationship, it is definitely OK to let your email exchanges be more casual. Remember that formal does not necessarily mean “unfriendly.” Don’t be afraid to include exclamation marks or even a smiley face if you feel it is appropriate.