Top 10 Basic Business
When it comes to your business e-mail communications,
you need to make an impression that can lend to
the determination that you are someone that will
be a pleasure to do business with.
F or your consideration below are the "Top
10 e-mail issues targeted at business men and
women. These are the issues business owners and
their employees minimally need to be aware of
in their day-to-day online communications.
1. SUBJECT: F ield: The SUBJECT: field is the
window into your e-mail and can many times determine
even if your e-mail will be opened. If this is
your first contact with a customer based on their
request through your site or otherwise, be sure
to have a short SUBJECT: that indicates clearly
what the topic of the e-mail is. Never be misleading
in this regard! Typos, all caps or all small case
can give the impression you are a spammer.
2. Level of F ormality: Never assume a position
of informality in your business e-mail. Only time
and relationship building efforts can guide when
you can informalize your business relationships.
And, in some cases that time may never arise.
Do not assume that e-mail is impersonal or informal
when it comes to your business communications.
It is very personal - a window into the type of
person you are and how you run your business.
Remember, people do business with people not companies.
One should communicate as if your e-mail is on
your company letterhead at all times. This is
your business's image you are branding!
3. Addressing: How do you address your new contacts?
I would suggest initially that you assume the
highest level of courtesy: Hello, Mr. Anders on,
Dear Ms. Jones, Dr. Osborne, etc. Until your new
contact states, "call me Andy" or "you
can call me Diane. Keep it formal until it is
clear the relationship dictates otherwise. You
will also be able to get clues by how your contacts
approach you and their tone. Most business people
do not mind being called by their first name,
however, in a global economy that can be perceived
as taking premature liberties in the relationship
if used too soon.
4. TO:, F rom:, Bcc, Cc fields can make or break
..In the TO: field make sure you have your contact's
name formally typed. John B. Doe - not john b
doe or JOHN B DOE.
..In the F ROM: field make sure your have your
full name formally typed. Example: Jane A. Jones.
Not: jane a jones or JANE A JONES. The later two
give the perception of lack of education or limited
experience with technology. Always use your full
name. By only including your first name or e-mail
address you are giving the perception you have
something to hide or do not know the basics of
configuring your e-mail program.
..Bcc: use this field when e-mailing a group
of contacts who do not personally know each other.
By listing an arms length list of e-mail addresses
in the CC or TO fields of contacts who do not
know each other or who have never met is conducive
to publishing their e-mail address to strangers.
No matter how great the list of people may be
to you, never make this decision for others! This
is a privacy issue! With those you are forging
partnerships with, visibly listing their e -mail
address in with a group of strangers will make
one wonder what other privacy issues you may not
respect or understand. Not good.
..Cc: Use this field when there are a handful
of associates involved in a discussion that requires
all be on the same page. These business people
know each other or have been introduced and have
no problem having their e-mail address exposed
to the parties involved. If you are not sure if
a business associate would mind their address
being made public, ask!
5. F ormatting: Refrain from using it in your
business communications. Unless you would type
something in bold crimson letters on business
letterhead, don't do it when e-mailing for commercial
gain. Even something as simple as using a different
font makes your e-mail's display contingent upon
the recipient having that specific font on their
system or it defaults to their designated default
font. The recipient may not have their e-mail
program configured in such a way as to display
your formatting the way it appears on your system
- if at all.
6. Attachments: Do you think your relationship
with a potential new customer is enhanced when
you send them that 5M Power Point presentation
they didn't request and you fill up their inbox
causing subsequent business correspondence to
bounce as undeliverable? Nope. And, if they don't
have Power Point they couldn't open the file anyway!
Never assume your potential customers have the
software you do to open any file you may arbitrarily
If you need to send a file over 200,000 in size,
business courtesy dictates you ask the recipient
first if it is O.K. to send a large file. Next,
confirm they have the same software and version
you do and what is the best time of day to sent
it to them to ensure they are available to download
the large file and keep their e-mail flowing.
Do not send large attachments without warning,
on weekends or after business hours when the recipient
may not be there to clear out their inbox and
keep their e-mail flowing.
7. Using Previous E-mail for New Correspondence:
If you want to give the perception of lazy, find
a previous e-mail from the party you want to communicate
with, hit reply and start typing about something
completely irrelevant to the old e-mail's subject.
Always start a new e-mail and add your contacts
to your address book so you can add them to a
new e-mail with one click.
8. Down Edit Your Replies: Don't just hit reply
and start typing. Editing is a skill those you
communicate with will appreciate as it lends to
reflecting a respect for their time and clarity
in your communications. Removing parts of the
previous e-mail that do not apply to your response
including e-mail headers and signature files removes
the clutter. In addition, by making the effort
to reply point by point keeps the conversation
on track with fewer misunderstandings.
9. Common Courtesy: Hello, Hi, Good Day, Thank
You, Sincerely, Best Regards. All those intros
and sign offs that are a staple of professional
business communications should also be used in
your business e-mail communications. Always have
a salutation and sign off with every e-mail. Here
again - think business letterhead.
10. Signature files: Keep your signature files
to no more than 5-6 lines as this can be viewed
as a bit egocentric. Limit your signature to your
Web site link, company name, and slogan/offer
or phone number. Include a link to your site where
the recipient can get all your contact information
from A-Z - that is what your site is for.
Don't forget to include the "http://"
when including your Web site address within e-mails
and your signature file to ensure it is recognized
as a clickable URL regardless of the user's software
The above Top 10 items will certainly allow
your business communications to rise above the
majority who do not take the time to understand
and master these issues. When forging new business
relationships and solidifying established partnerships,
the level of professionalism and courtesy you
relay in your business e-mail communications will
always gain clients over the competition that
may be anemic, uninformed or just plain lazy in
this area. Went it comes to business, regardless
of mode of communication used, professionalism
and courtesy never go out of style.
By Judith Kallos