Many people view email as a less formal means of communication. This can be true when emailing friends and family members, but as a public relations professional, it is always better to lean towards formality when reaching out for business.
Here are a few things to remember when communicating via email:
1. Pay attention to spelling and grammar
We are accustomed to using abbreviations and shorthand when texting or communicating within the office. However, this is not appropriate when you send an email for business purposes. No matter who you’re dealing with, always check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Shorthands like “sry”, “wyd” or “pls” are often not taken seriously in an office setting. Present yourself via email in a way that lets the receiver know you are intelligent, professional and to be taken seriously. This is especially important when communicating with clients.
2. Include a relevant subject line
Always include a straightforward subject line that will clearly indicate what the email entails. With an overflowing inbox, it is easy to overlook a vague email with no subject. A subject line will also make it much easier for the receiver to find your message, and increase the chance it will be read and receive a reply.
3. Address the recipient by name
I appreciate when people take the time to find out who I am and address me by first name via email. Emails that just say “Hi” or “To Whom it May Concern” are impersonal and show a lack of initiative by the sender. These days a little research goes a long way. I am always more inclined to answer an email when it is addressed to me.
4. Use a proper sign-off
I recommend setting an automatic signature to your email that contains your name, title, company, phone number, email address and any other information you deem essential. This is extremely important, especially when communicating with someone new.
Concluding an email with a proper sign-off leaves a good impression. By providing your phone number, email address, and even links to your social media accounts, the recipient will have many opportunities to get in touch and learn more about you.
5. Warm it up
Emails can easily feel impersonal and robotic. Don’t be afraid to add personality and emotions to your emails. If something excites you, add an exclamation mark. An email that portrays you as a friendly, yet serious business person will create a favorable impression. Just be careful not to overuse punctuation or emojis.
With all of this in mind, assess the relationship you have with the recipient. If you have been doing business with someone for many years and developed a good relationship, it is definitely okay to be more casual. Remember that formal does not necessarily mean “unfriendly.” Don’t be afraid to include exclamation marks or even a smiley face if you feel it is appropriate.
This article has been edited.