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Professional Email Etiquette For A Lasting Impression

Emails are a part of business, for both employed professionals and job seekers alike. Since most people are being inundated with emails every day, you want to do everything you can to ensure that the emails you send get read. From a respectful email greeting to a professional email format, writing well can make a big difference.



Specify your subject line

Title your email in such a way that the recipient immediately knows what the message is actually about.

For instance, if you're emailing to inform a colleague about a specific meeting, you can title your email something like, “Info about budget meeting.” If you're sending an email to inform a co-worker about an impromptu meeting, you might title the email something like “Meeting in the conference room at 2 p.m. today.” All in all, you want your title to get to the point right away.


Use a professional email address

Proper email etiquette calls for sending emails from your business email address, rather than a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you're discussing confidential matters. Also, by keeping your business and personal email separate, you are ensuring that nothing urgent gets lost amid spam emails, marketing messages, and other personal communications.

Use professional email greetings

While it may be tempting to use informal salutations when emailing associates and friends at work, you should use the same professional greetings you typically would if writing business correspondence with pen and paper. So think "Hello" rather than "Hey."

Other examples of greetings you can use include:

  • Good afternoon,

  • Good morning,

  • How are you?

  • Hope this email finds you well,

  • Hi there,

  • Hi [Name],

  • Greetings,

  • Dear [Name],

(Mostly) avoid “reply all”

It's usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending professional emails.

Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and only hit “reply all” if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients.

Another way to avoid spamming people with unwanted emails? Utilize the polite alternative of moving to BCC. This means that if someone were to “reply all” to a message with both CC'ed and BCC'ed parties, only the CC'ed parties would receive the reply. By moving someone to BCC, you are keeping the conversation going without that person — sparing them emails they don't need to read. Just make sure you inform them that you will be BCC'ing them beforehand; you don't want to kick someone off the email thread without being transparent.


Proofread

Sometimes people pay less attention to spelling and grammar when composing emails than when writing actual letters, which is the way business correspondence was traditionally done. But the truth is that proper spelling and grammar still counts, even in the virtual world. After writing your email, read it out loud to ensure that there are no errors, as they could overshadow your message. The reason for reading it out loud is that sometimes your ears will catch something that your eyes skim over.


Keep it short and sweet

When it comes to your business emails, the shorter the better. Keeping your emails concise and to the point means not only less time spent crafting your email but also a timely response from the person you emailed. Trust us — no one wants to read a novel in their inbox.


Acknowledge emails

With business email etiquette, it's always a good idea to send a response, regardless of if the person emailing you requests one. You should not only acknowledge all emails, but also do so in a timely fashion.

This sort of courtesy is not always extended, and you'll be surprised at how much your professionalism can set you apart.


Avoid all caps

Using all capital letters in written communication is like shouting in a face-to-face conversation — and no one likes to be yelled at. So it's usually not appropriate or proper email etiquette to employ all caps in order to convey your message.

If you know what you want to say, let your words show how you feel and leave the caps lock button alone. One obvious exception would be if you're using acronyms or initialisms.

Examples of common business acronyms and initialisms in professional emails:

  • ASAP (as soon as possible)

  • FYI (for your information)

  • BTW (by the way)

  • EOD (end of day)

  • COB (close of business)

  • ATTN (attention)

  • N/A (not available)

  • COD (cash on delivery)

  • TBD (to be determined)

  • KPI (key performance indicator)

  • EOM (end of message)

  • WFH (work from home)

  • OOO (out of office)

  • YTD (year to date)


Attach carefully

In the event that you need to send large attachments, you should first ask the intended recipient whether or not doing so is OK. Assuming you get the go-ahead, you should use a program to compress or zip the attachment so that it takes up less space in the recipient's email inbox. It's also a good idea to let the recipient know when you plan to send the attachment.

Another great alternative to email attachments is sending links to files that are hosted using cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Not only will this take up a lot less space, but it will also allow you to host multiple files and stay organized. Instead of leafing through emails and finding the right attachments, you and your co-workers can have everything in one place. Plus, most cloud storage providers are free up to a certain GB, so you won't break the bank.


Double-check the email address

When it comes to business matters, the last thing you want is to send an email to the wrong person. That's why you should double-check the recipient's info before hitting the “send” button. If you make a habit of verifying the receiver's info, you'll avoid making these mistakes.

Some email providers, such as Gmail, also offer a feature called “Undo Send.” Upon hitting send the first time, an option will appear at the bottom of your browser window asking you if you want to undo this action before it permanently sends. If you accidentally added the wrong person, this is a life-changer. Instead of pinging them with an email not meant for their eyes, you get another chance to send it to the right person without causing any harm.

Sign off in style

It's a good idea to have an email signature as a component of your corporate identity. It will make your emails come off looking more legitimate and professional. In fact, you can look at your email signature as the digital equivalent of your business card. That said, you want your email signature to be as properly formatted as your printed business card. So drop the multiple font types and go for standardization to present a nice, professional image. Even with an email signature, you should still close your message with a professional sign-off.


Examples of professional email sign-offs include:

  • Best,

  • Best regards,

  • Looking forward to hearing from you,

  • Regards,

  • Sincerely,

  • Sincerely yours,

  • Thank you,

  • Thanks again,

  • With appreciation,

  • With gratitude,

  • Yours sincerely,

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