In a time where business culture has become increasingly more casual, from what we wear to go to work, to how we address our colleagues, is it possible that we have lost the art of writing a professional business email? To combat this, we have come up with the top 4 tips to ensure that poorly written business emails are a thing of the past.
1. How to address the recipient
When emailing a fellow colleague a simple ‘hi’, ‘hello’, or even ‘hey’ will be sufficient. However, when starting a conversation with clients or someone you are not overly familiar with, certain formalities should be met – at least until you get the impression that they are comfortable with chatty language.
Approaching an email in the same manner as how you learnt to write formal letters in school will often put you in safe territory (who would have known those lessons would ever come in handy these days!).
As the age old saying goes ‘first impressions count’ and this extends to email; if ‘To whom it may concern’ isn’t quite to your liking, just using ‘Dear’ followed by the persons name will always get you off on the right foot. I’m sure we’ve all experienced sales emails where the sender chats to you in a tone which is slightly too over-familiar, almost as if you’re best friends but really, you’ve never heard of the person and you have no interest in being their best friend.
2. Spell check and proof reading
It may be the oldest rule in the book, but it can never be said enough that you should always proofread to make sure there are no spelling errors, even the trusty spell check can let a few mistakes slip through the net.
Misusing words like ‘there’, ‘their’, and ‘they’re’ are commonplace as well as mixing up ‘whether’ and ‘weather’. More extreme cases of spelling mistakes and lack of proof reading can lead to typos that will leave you feeling red faced, for example, we would all feel sorry for an octopus enthusiast misspelling the word tentacles!
If you find that you are likely to mix up words, it can be useful to make a list of the words you commonly get muddled so that when you proofread your email you know keywords to look out for.
These yellow beings are littered all over social media and messaging, so much so that they landed a movie but in the world of business emails, emojis do not pay a large role.
The occasional smiley face can be acceptable when emailing colleagues or people you deem to have a friendly relationship with but when talking to clients, potential clients or someone you do not know, it is best to steer clear!
Although there isn’t any obvious harm that can be done with an Emoji, with the exception of the aubergine which can cause quite a stir, it is always best to stay on the side of caution and go without.
4. Sign off
So, you have written the perfect email, got all your points across and now it is time to sign it off. It is always nice to thank the recipient for reading your email, a simple ‘Many thanks’ will often suffice.
However, if you’re emailing a pitch about a product or service, a ‘thank you for taking the time to read this email’, or ‘thank you for your consideration’ can put you in a strong position. It is always nice to offer to answer any questions that they may have which shows a willingness to help and encourage a response off the back of your email. Another tip for encouraging people to respond to the email you have taken the time to write is to wrap up the email by saying ‘I look forward to hearing from you’.
Now the all-important end to the email, ‘Kind regards’ tends to be the most common sign off of an email so why stray? It offers a respectful yet polite and friendly way to end the email before your name and just in case you were considering breaking the cardinal rule of business emails… do not sign off with any kisses!
In general, when approaching the task of writing a business email, it is always best to stay on the side of caution rather than over-step the mark, especially when conversing with clients or people that you do not have an existing relationship with. You will never suffer consequences from being too formal when addressing someone, but it is possible to come across rude or leave people with a bad feeling if you are too chatty and informal. If you find yourself feeling unsure always think from the readers perspective.
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