By Stayce Wagner, Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC

When you think about your personal brand, do you think of how you dress and how you act? Most young professionals do. But what about how you email?  A well-crafted email helps you to make a positive impression by showcasing your professionalism. That’s the good news. The catch is that learning to write a quality email takes work. Let’s look at some email etiquette tips that can help you to master this valuable business skill.

“Every e-mail you send adds to, or detracts from your reputation.”
Peter Post, The Emily Post Institute

Do Write a Clear Subject Line

Every business email should have a clear and concise subject line that tells the recipient in as few words as possible: 1) what the email is about, and 2) why she needs to read it. Admittedly, writing a good subject line is more art than science, but the more you do it, the better you get.  A good way to test your subject line for clarity and conciseness is to ask yourself if the recipient will get the gist of the email if she doesn’t read it in its entirety.

Do Think Before You Write

A good strategy for writing a business email is to collect your thoughts before you begin to write. Think about why you are writing the email. What do you want the recipient to know and what action, if any, do you want her to take? An email that doesn’t answer these questions probably needs to be rewritten.

Don’t Email with an Attitude

Did you know that you can come across as angry in an email even if you aren’t? The email recipient can’t see your facial expressions or hear your vocal tone. Help her to understand your positive intention by avoiding words that cause negative feelings, like wrong, obviously, and shocked. However, if you are angry, write the email on a notepad so that there is no electronic record of it, put it aside, cool off, then try again. Also, consider that some sensitive issues might be better addressed in a face-to-face conversation.

Don’t Use Text-Speak

Business email is formal communication and should not contain emojis, thinking on the page (Um, Hmm), and acronyms such as LOL and IDK. In addition to making you look unpolished, text-speak in a business email increases the risk of misunderstandings because most professionals are not fluent in this new language. And please limit your use of the exclamation mark. I get it! It helps to convey emotion! But if every sentence ends with one, it loses its value!

Do Send a Timely Response

Sending a timely response to an email is critical to creating a positive impression. But what exactly is a “timely response”? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The traditional rule of responding to an email within 24 – 48 hours may be too slow for your industry. Also, your organization may have an unwritten rule about responding to emails that you need to consider. That said, if you are unable to promptly answer a nonurgent email, inform the sender when to expect a response from you, and be sure to keep your promise.

Do Use a Professional Email Address

If you use a personal email address for business correspondence, it should be business appropriate. Your name @ the-service-provider is a safe, professional choice. Adultinggirl@gmail.com? Not so much.

Don’t Skip Proofreading

Finally, before you press the send button, review the body of the email and the subject line for spelling and grammar mistakes. Make a habit of taking the time to catch cringeworthy typos like using your when you mean you’re. Your personal brand will thank you. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no, the disclaimer below your signature asking forgiveness for typos isn’t a substitute for proofing your email.

Stayce Wagner is the author of Modern Business Etiquette for Young & Fabulous Professionals, available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other major outlets. Stayce is the founder of Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC, where business etiquette and authenticity are partners, not rivals.  Our many services are designed to help you to achieve success on your terms. We invite you to contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your business etiquette needs.

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