Today’s business person will spend hours at the tailor crafting a fine business suit, hours at a power lunch sweet talking their next big client and hours pouring over proposals or negotiations to try to get every last penny they can, and then spend 30 seconds banging out an important email that will single handedly cost them a dozen more potential clients. While grammar and spelling aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, knowing basic email rules is an absolute must in this day and age where email has taken over as the primary form of communication used in today’s business world. Here are a few simple tips.
Let your email utilities work for you
The world of email has come a long way since Outlook Express. Today’s email clients are quite sophisticated and come with all sorts of bells and whistles that can make sending an email easier. It used to be that email spell checkers were absolutely horrible, but they have been vastly improved and most use the same spell check library as Microsoft Word. If your email client is old and doesn’t have a grammar or spell checker, upgrade now, or simply type your emails in Microsoft Word and copy/paste. Make sure you check how the format looks before you do by sending yourself an email.
Use a template
If you have trouble setting up the formal date/address/body/signature form in every one of your emails, than simply write one and save it as a template that you can go back and use again and again. You can even have multiple templates ready to go for clients you email on a frequent basis; that way, much of the hard work is done before you even get started.
Avoid being overly casual
Since most people still view email as a casual way to communicate, the one problem that costs more businesses clients more than any other is the urge to be overly friendly and casual when communicating with current clients or future clients. When writing a professional email, it is always better to sound formal and stilted than casual and overly friendly. If you have trouble coming up with the proper vocabulary, have a dictionary and a thesaurus on your desk that you can flip through to come up with better verbiage. You can even use websites like Dictionary.com or similar sites to help increase your vocabulary so you don’t sound unprofessional in your correspondence.
If all else fails, ask for help
We all know that many competitive office environments will take asking for help as a sign of weakness, but if you want to get the process of writing compelling emails down, there is no shame in asking for an occasional email to be proofread by someone else in the office who has an English background. Most bosses will take asking for help as a sign of maturity, and before you know it, you’ll be a master of the formal email.
Many people think that if you can write a compelling letter then you can automatically write a compelling email. The truth is that writing a compelling email is a learned skill that takes practice.