A lot of us have trouble with how to start a professional email without sounding informal. We confuse them with the regular emails that we send to friends. We make use of inappropriate language, unnecessary salutations and so on.
To appear more professional, we must use courtesy and other skills to write emails. Emails are almost inevitable in the professional world, and they can make or mar your career.
Here are a few tips on how to write professional sounding emails;
1. Start by making sure you write a meaningful subject line
Right before you send an email, you must take a minute to make sure that the subject line you have written describes the content of your email accurately which should give your recipient reason to open your message. If the subject line is tacky or vague, your recipient’s interest is lost at first glance. Your email is among’st the hundreds of emails that would be received so a clear subject line will help put your email as the top priority to the reader. A tacky subject line renders your email vulnerable to be sent to the recipient’s trash and you will lose the opportunity of passing your message across. Do not ever neglect your subject line.
2. Identify and introduce yourself clearly
When sending an email, make sure you identify who you are clearly, not everyone would recognize your email address. A formal “Dear Mr. Bush” salutation is not necessary for regular workplace communication, however, when you send emails to other professionals, you should ensure that you use a salutation that would allow the person realize that the email received is from a professional, it is a professional decorum to greet your recipient correctly. An informal “Dear Anthony” or “Hi/Hello Anthony” would work depending on your relationship with the recipient. If your email is a company, do some research as to who would be receiving the email and greet them instead of sending “To whosoever, it may concern” This allows your recipient connect your name with your work and remember for future conversations.
3. Keep the message focused and brief
What’s your reason for writing? Are you apologizing for an error you made? Are you responding to a previous request? Are you following up a job previously done? Your purpose for writing the email should be made known easily from the first fast glance over the email. Be direct and organized. You have built up your message from the base with a good subject line and introduction; you should keep it going the same way with your content part. If you’re replying an email, make sure to read through it, do not read half of it and see that you have a contribution then go straight to hit “reply.” Be polite, your “please” and “thank you” are important. Do not be blunt to the point of rudeness.
To assist your recipient focus on your message, ensure that you keep your text readable. Keep your message clear and concise. No one has time to read a story disguised as an email so avoid playing around and move straight to the point. If you have a list, use bullet points and organize the mail to look easy on the eyes. Do not use emoticons and avoid unnecessary fancy fonts. Avoid small talk and take it one point at a time.
4. Proofread your message
This is very important especially when your message is asking your recipient to do some work for you, to a superior or a bulk mail to dozens of people. Caps come across as rude, and no-caps makes you look lazy. Take the time to make your message look professional, use a spell checker to spot any mistakes. Take a minute or two before you hit “send.” You can also show a draft to a colleague in order to see if it actually makes sense.
5. Avoid attachments
It would better to copy and paste the important parts of your attachments than to add the attachments or you give a heads up to your recipient relating if they would like an attached file. Many readers do not take the time to download the attachments except it is of utmost importance.
6. Be nice, don’t flame up
Think carefully before you click “Send.” Whenever you find yourself writing in anger, take a break, sit back and relax, get a cup of coffee, imagine your reaction if you got such email from a colleague or professional. Would you be happy with yourself if your email was posted on the general notice board for your colleagues to see? Would they be appalled by how you handled the situation or applaud you for your tenacity and patience?
Do not add fuel to the fire without checking out the consequences. Who knows, you may have to work with this recipient on another matter, would the person like to continue with you? Would there be a high recommendation or a low rebuttal? These are the thoughts that should run through your mind before you send an angry email.
There are two simple rules of email – never email when you’re drunk, never email when you’re angry. Clicking the send button under any of these two circumstances could end your blooming career! No one is ever in the right psychological frame of mind to indulge in a professional conversation under either of these circumstances. So, never use angry, uncontrolled emotions and rage on your next email. That would pose a bad image of yourself. There could be some serious consequences to your professional life by doing so. Calm yourself down and then take some time to reply to the email.
7. Don’t assume privacy
It is popularly believed best to praise in public and criticize in private. Don’t send anything over email that you don’t want to be posted, emails are not secure. A malicious hacker could gain access to your mail and see things that are not meant to be seen. If you have any criticizing to do, do so in person. Do not set yourself up for a future mistake. Be careful with what you write and send out.
8. Distinguish between formal &informal situations.
When you are writing to a close friend, it is okay to use emoticons or abbreviations and non-standard punctuation marks and spellings. These shortcuts are usually signs of friendliness. If you were to use these informal languages when your recipient expects a more formal approach, he/she would think that you do not take the business as important as you ought to. So you have to ensure you understand the situation of things and write accordingly.
9. Respond Promptly
If you want to appear polite and professional, make yourself readily available to your recipients. Your reply could be, “Sorry, I’m very busy now, I would get back to your shortly” At least, you’re sure that your recipient is not waiting for your reply.
10. Show Respect and Restraint
Many issues have arisen because someone clicked “reply all” instead of “reply.” Although, most people are aware that emails are not private, it’s good to ask the sender before sending a personal message. If you receive an email request, it is perfectly understandable if you forward the request to a person or persons who can help, but forwarding a message with the sender’s name with the intent of ridiculing the person is tacky.
Make use BCC instead of CC when sending bulk information to large groups. When you use a CC list, the name of everyone is sent with the message, but \names of everyone on the BCC list (or “blind carbon copy”) are concealed. You can put your own name in the “To” box. Tolerate other people’s etiquette blunders. If you think you’re being insulted, quote the line back to your sender with a neutral remark, could be asking the sender to explain the line to you as it is rather vague to you.
11. Mention the next step to be taken
If your email is a follow-up of a previously sent email, make sure that your next step to be taken us your priority in this email. The recipient would be expecting you to talk about the next course of action, chit chat is unnecessary and commit to the project. Check your mail regularly to keep up with your recipient as you could be exchanging emails over a couple of weeks.
12. Punctuations & Grammar errors
You don’t need to be a grammar master for you to send emails, but you should make sure to correct your mistakes as this would take you a long way. Bad grammar on your email could prevent you from getting a good job done. You would be criticized by your recipient who is a professional like you. It is the nature of humans to be judgmental, and it is your duty to learn and correct your mistakes. Use simple English, do not confuse your reader, check out simple mistakes like “commission” and “comission.” Use a grammar checker if necessary. A ‘Your/You’re’ mistake would change the content of your entire email.
13. Close with a thank you
According to www.grammar.about.com you do not need to be told to be respectful and polite in a professional email, this is an integral part of the professional netiquette. You close your email with a thank you and your recipient would smile and feel important because you made them feel that way.
14. Make the most use of your signature
One thing you should always put in mind when writing your email is to include all of your contact information in their signature, as well as your title, company name, social media and websites so that people can have access to a total view of them and your company. It also gives the reader your contact info in every email so they can find you in one search, and you always want them to know exactly how to get to your website.
15. Match up your mobile signature
If you don’t set up the same signature that you have set up in the desktop version of your email, it would be very obvious that you’re replying from your mobile device. Setting up the signature correctly on your mobile phone should only take about 10 or 20 minutes and will be infinitely better than the ‘sent from my Android” message. So anywhere you are, you can reply emails with ease, and everyone thinks you’re the most hardworking person alive.
With these simple tips, you will be well on your way to sending professional emails and building up your reputation in the business world.
A quick gloss over of the tips includes having a brief and meaningful subject line, the appropriate greeting, and introduction of yourself, your matter which is straight to the point, checking for grammatical and punctuation errors, proofreading before sending, no angry messages, your signature and a thank you.