Today, most run the bulk of their working life through their email inbox. It’s a very quick, convenient and versatile method of communication, but it does have a downside. It occupies a rocky middle ground between texts, with their ‘text speak’ and emojis, and letters, which have a more formal and traditional format.
So how can you ensure you avoid a faux pas – and walk that line between ‘yours faithfully’ and ROFL emojis? Why, by following our five simple rules for emails, of course…
Acknowledge all Emails
You may be busy and the email may be crammed with queries that will take a long time to answer, but that’s no reason to ignore it. A quick but courteous reply, indicating that you’ve received it and will deal with it as soon as you can, lets the client know you’re paying attention – and reassures them their email arrived.
Choose a Clear, Informative Subject Line
Your subject line should give a short summary of the topic, so that the client knows the rough content without having to open it. Don’t reply to emails with an old subject header if you want to discuss something new; start afresh instead with a new subject line.
Keep Your Emails Short and to the Point
Don’t ramble on. Stick to the topic. Rather than using long, wandering paragraphs, use features like bullet points, emboldening, italics and underlining to make information and queries easily distinguishable.
Use That ‘High Importance’ Flag Wisely
Don’t be one of those people that flags every email they send out as important or urgent. Just don’t. Not only will it aggravate the recipients, but you’re electronically ‘crying wolf’ – in the end, clients will ignore your ‘cries’ and presume that none of your emails are urgent.
Don’t Get Up Close and Personal
You’re not emailing a friend. While your relationship may get friendlier and more informal over time, never forget that first and foremost, you’re contacting a client – and should keep at least some semblance of professionalism. This means addressing them in a professional manner and not regaling them with what you did at the weekend or the trouble you had with that funny rash on your leg.
It’s courteous to at least put ‘hello’ and their name and/or title at the beginning of the email, at least at the start of your working relationship, and ‘regards’ or ‘thanks’ as a minimum at the end.
No two clients or working relationships are the same – and relationships are interactive entities that are prone to change. After a few years, you may find both you and your client are emailing each other in a far more informal and friendly manner. But always bear in mind that it’s primarily a working relationship, and that friendly and professional are not mutually exclusive terms.