Despite all of the technological advances in our communication methods in the last few years, I still love the personal touch, where I can pick-up the cell phone to connect or have coffee with a client or colleague.
Nonetheless, e-mail is possibly the most preferred business communication method, so how can we correctly manage e-mail as entrepreneurs? Following are six guidelines I’ve discovered along the way professionally and personally.
- Keep it short, simple, sweet, and properly title your e-mails: Time is of extreme importance for all of us. Save yourself some time and keep the e-mails short, simple, and sweet. Here is an example: “Jason, I genuinely enjoyed making your acquaintance yesterday night. Please feel free to hit me up should you have any additional suggestions.” Remember to properly title your e-mail in the subject line so that the title suits its contents. For example, the minutes of Monday’s staff meeting as the primary content should not be titled “Thursday’s teleconference.”
- Create a decent auto signature. My lawyer suggested I sign all of my e-mails with my company, name, fax, phone, e-mail, and website link so that there is no mistake that the nature of the communication is business and not personal. You may also need a classified transmission disclaimer (at a minimum). Consult with your lawyer for instructions regarding your particular situation.
- Maintain a professional, cordial tone at all times: Use proper grammar and professional language, particularly with those with whom you communicate regularly: staff, associates, vendors, subcontractors, and so forth. To that end, before sending your documents, set your laptop to carry forward a spell-check automatically. I’ve had to defeat my awkward feelings and use “hospitality/hotel language” as my litmus test as if I am a front desk agent checking in a new guest: “How may I be of assistance to you?” Further, ensure your e-mails look professional. 12 point Arial font is the best. Here’s an example: “I am sharing with you the document we discussed. Kindly study it and let me know your opinions. Best regards.”
- Vote on the use of different e-mail addresses: My wife prefers one e-mail address for all communication, and that’s it. I have work, personal, and many business e-mail addresses and get irritated if anyone crosses those boundaries. If you want to use purpose-specific addresses, you will first need to set up the accounts and direct the public so that they communicate with you through whichever account you choose for a given purpose. Still, then you must also review all of those different accounts regularly. You may also BCC ( blind carbon copy) or forward e-mails to the one main account you’re frequently viewing. The most crucial thing to remember is not to allow significant correspondences to go unattended or abandoned.
- Periodically check outgoing and incoming correspondence: You may think about enrolling into your address book the contact info of frequent correspondents. This way, you reduce the possibility of re-entering the incorrect e-mail address. Consider making a call to the recipient following original correspondence to let her/him know that you’ve sent an e-mail so that your correspondence does not go into their spam box. Likewise, you may add incoming addresses to your selected contact list if you so desire—Shun instances where your important correspondence was never received. Check e-mail constantly and reply promptly.
- Thread your e-mails. Choosing whether or not to thread e-mails is a matter of choice. Personally, I like escorting a search for an appropriate topic and yielding one-not ten-separate e-mails relating to a conversation. Awkward discussion threads are the result when you and the recipient reply to an initial e-mail rather than make a brand new e-mail as the discussion evolves.
There are times when I sometimes receive a response from someone who’s typing so fast that her/his e-mail appears scattered and fragmented as if she/he was fragmented and multi-tasking at the moment she/he was typing the e-mail. Moreover, she/he may ask me a question whose answer was already set in my original correspondence. Don’t be that girl or a guy. Take a deep breath, slow down, and take the time to read the content of your e-mails before replying.