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Also, be cautious about sending a message in ALL CAPS. In "lingo" of Internet, a message in all caps means that sender is shouting. Certainly, there may be times you want to create this impression, but use it carefully!
* Give context to your emails. Once, I received a message from someone that consisted of one word -- "Yes." It took me 1/2 an hour just to figure out what question I had asked in first place!
Always give enough context to your messages so that your readers will understand what you are talking about. If you are responding to a prior e-mail, it's usually enough to just include message you are responding to. Don't, however, fall into trap of including each and every message in a 40-message email conversation -- That's probably just a little TOO much context!
* Give full contact information. This one is pretty simple -- always let your recipient know who sent message. Don't trust your email address to provide this information; Always sign your messages with your full name and organization, just as if you were sending a regular letter. Having a signature file can be very helpful for this.
* Be as prompt as possible. Once again, this is a no-brainer, but it is easy to lose track of your messages, especially when you get a lot of them. I've found best way to managing my responses is to religiously use mailbox function on my email program. As soon as I respond to a message, it goes into a separate mailbox (usually organized so that each client has their own mailbox) -- that way, I know that everything in my "In" box is something that needs a response.
* Think BEFORE you send! This is probably most important thing you can do when you are sending email. Almost every horror story I have heard about email has something to do with someone who sent an email while in an emotional state, or who sent an email without double-checking message and who it was going to.
If you get a message that makes you angry, don't send an email back right away. Take some time to settle down so that you aren't sending a message that you will regret later. Remember that your angry words can be "saved" by your recipient, and you don't want them to come back to haunt you.
Also, always double-check your message to make sure it says exactly what you want it to say, that it is going ONLY to people who you want to see it, and that it is coming from right address (important if you have a number of different users on your system).
Remember -- once email is sent, you can't call it back!
Just one last note: I'm not saying that we should take as much time with an email as we would with a business proposal or case study. What we SHOULD do, however, is make certain that every piece of correspondence we write, whether it is a sales letter, an inter-office memo, or an email message, should reflect image that we want to maintain -- one of professionalism, competence, and caring.
Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's http://InternetWriters.com Ron works with business speakers and writers, helping them with their copy-writing, marketing, and Internet promotion. Reach him at email@example.com or 801-328-9006.