The Internet has subtly crept into modern life. Unfortunately, the advent of communication through emails has met many people unprepared. As a result, businesses lose big clients and grand projects due to ignorance of email etiquettes and the rules of writing professional emails.
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Professional emails are neither written like letters nor text messages. They are at the middle. They are not as long and overly formal as letters neither are they as short and overly informal as text messages.
Below are 9 tips that would help you write and respond to emails more professionally and effectively:
1. Choose Your Email Subject Very Carefully
Time is very precious. Executives today receive hundreds of emails daily and often have little time to decide which of them is worth reading. So, ensure your subject is not ambiguous and is straight to the point, for example,
Request for Advertising Quotation
Avoid using ‘URGENT’ or ‘IMPORTANT’ as subjects in professional emails. They are commonly used for spams.
2. Address Your Email Recipient Correctly
Your address sets the tone of the email. It determines whether it is cordial, serious or casual.
You can begin a professional email with ‘Dear Ms. Williams’ or ‘Hello Ruth’ depending on your relationship and previous communication with the person.
‘Hello Ruth’ is okay for someone you have already developed a form of relationship with and can call by the first name. However, ‘Dear Ms. Williams’ is a more appropriate address for people you are contacting for the first, second or third time.
In the end, you should always aim at making the communication more cordial after the first few interactions. After a while of continuous communication, you should address each other by first names.
3. Introduce the Email Body on a Good Note
In responding to professional emails, it is always better to open with a compliment, for example,
Thanks for a swift response’ or ‘I really appreciate the detailed explanation you gave.
Even when you receive a nasty email, you must write professionally in your response. Generally, replying emails warmly and professionally puts your reader in a good mood to answer your questions or requests and shows you are business-minded.
Do not respond to rude emails right away. Take a break to ensure that you are acting as intended and not reacting to the contents of the email.
When writing a fresh email, you can introduce yourself warmly by stating where you met the person previously or where you got the email address.
4. Always Acknowledge the Receipt of Emails
Though it is more professional to reply emails in time, sometimes you would need more time to think or prepare the documents you need to send. In times like this, let your reader know you have seen the mail and would get back to them soon.
You can respond with:
Thanks for a swift response. I shall get back to you shortly.
That is a great way to let your clients or partners know you take them very seriously.
5. Answer all Questions in the Email and Anticipate Other Questions
When responding to professional emails, first answer the questions in the email before passing on fresh information.
It is better to answer them stepwise or start with the first question to the last. Also, you should answer each question with a short paragraph.
You should also quote what part of the email you are responding to.
6. Keep it Simple and Sweet (KISS)
Professional emails are not formal letters and should not be excessively long neither are they text messages, so they should not be meatless.
Remember, email recipients are eager to know what you have written but do not have the luxury of time to read through unnecessarily long emails. To simplify the reading of your email, use one paragraph for each point and use bullets for lists.
Basically, write the information with little or just enough explanation to help your reader understand. Avoid using abbreviations like ‘U’, ‘HTH’,’ASAP’, and avoid colloquial English also.
Read over your emails before hitting ‘Send’ or ‘Reply’. Always bear in mind that once the message is sent, it cannot be modified. Check carefully for grammatical errors before sending a professional email.
7. Conclude the Body of Your Email Intentionally
If you expect a response, state it. For example’
I look forward to your response.
Otherwise, just conclude the email such that your reader does not need to reply you unnecessarily.
8. Sign off Cordially
How you sign off an email is important. It often reflects your personality.
Unlike in letters where most people use ‘Yours faithfully’, it is often better to end your emails with,
‘Best regards’, ‘Warm regards’, ‘Sincerely’, ‘Thanks again’, ‘Cheers’ etc
9. Use a Professional Email Signature
Your email signature is not just for the professionalism of your email. It is a major contact tool.
You can use something like,
Smith BamCEO, Africa Entertainment Inc.+234XXXXXXXXXXXX
Remember to always use pre-written templates for frequently sent messages, and avoid attaching unnecessary files or using capital letters. Before writing your message, always ensure you are writing to or replying who you intend to email by checking the email address field carefully.
Deciding the right phrase to handle different situations can be very tasking, especially if English is not your first language. As a correspondent, you are directly involved in critical day-to-day interactions via email. This makes your ability to craft good email messages, using the perfect phrases and clauses, tangential to your business success.
There is a book by Meryl Runion that will help you to a great extent even if English is not your first language:
Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals: Hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for getting respect, recognition, and results in today’s workplace
Overall, this book will greatly improve your communication skills. It will also help you easily clarify assignments with your manager or projects with your clients as well as guide you in handling the inevitable complaints that sometimes follow sales of products or services.