Are you really making the most of your email system in 2017?
For most professionals, email is one of the tools they use most often. Processing email probably takes up a good part of your day. Yet, many of us really don’t understand how to make the most of our email messages.
When it comes to composing emails, most of us are guilty of two common email mistakes:
- Either, we dash off an email in the heat of the moment (often when we are upset or angry). The resulting email winds up reflecting our emotional state. And it’s usually full of typos, spelling errors, and other mistakes.
- Or, we agonize over writing the perfect email. A response that should just take a minute or two to write winds up taking half the day. When this happens, the resulting email is often too wordy and may miss the point entirely.
Learning and following professional email tips can help. If you need a refresher on the basics of writing a good professional email message, Google a tutorial to start, then come back for more.
Don’t even get me started on email time management. Many professionals need help in that area too. A poorly organized method of dealing with email messages can waste hours each day.
In this article, I provide 17 professional email tips to help you create better email messages and use your email system more productively.
Tip 1. Never Write an Email When You’re Upset
Sometimes we get emails that upset us. If an email makes you angry or if you find it shocking, your first impulse might be to quickly reply. However, if your emotions come through in a hastily written email, you come across as less than professional. Here’s what to do instead:
If your response can wait until you’re less upset, delay writing. A calm reply is more likely to come across as professional.
If you must reply right away, go ahead and write that email response—but don’t send it. Instead, save it as a draft and print it out. Take the draft to a trusted friend, family member, or colleague and ask them to look for anything unprofessional in your message.
Note the changes they suggest. Once you’ve revised your email, ask them to review the message again. Send the message only after you are both sure it comes across as professional.
Tip 2. Don’t Wait Too Long to Respond
If you’re a small business person, you probably get business inquiries through email. You may also get questions from colleagues or current clients. Typically, when someone contacts you with a business request, they want the answer sooner rather than later.
On a weekday, business emails should be answered in 24 hours unless you’re away. If the email comes in during the weekend, it’s generally okay to wait until Monday to respond. But know that a few clients will still expect a quick response even if it’s the weekend.
Tip 3. Use a Vacation Responder If You Will Be Gone
If you’re going to be out of the office for an extended period in 2017 and won’t be checking your email, it’s a good idea to let people know. Use a vacation or out-of-office message, such as the kind you can set up through Gmail.
It’s okay to restrict the out-of-office message to your contacts only. You don’t want your out-of-office message to go to the senders of spam messages or to email lists you’ve subscribed to.
Tip 4. Don’t Use Email as a Crutch
Email is convenient—you can send one at any time of the day or night. Plus, it leaves a written record of the conversation. But email is not the right choice for every situation.
If you believe that your email message is likely to be misunderstood, a phone call or even a face-to-face meeting might be the better choice. Especially make sure that you’re not using email as a crutch to avoid difficult conversations.
Tip 5. Consider Your Email Audience
Whether a professional email is formal or informal depends on who you are writing to. That’s why it’s important to know who your audience is. Some businesses and individuals prefer more formal communications, while others would rather receive more casual messages. If you can, use the writing style your audience prefers.
The language your contact uses when communicating with you can be a clue as to which type of writing style is best. If their email messages to you are more formal, that’s probably a sign that their preferred communication style is formal. Likewise, if their emails are more casual, they likely prefer a casual style of communication.
Tip 6. Be Polite
Good manners are also good business when it comes to writing professional emails in 2017. Remember that each email you send leaves an impression on the reader at least twice: the initial impression when they first receive the email and a second impression when they reread the saved message.
Make sure that your professional emails leave the right impression.
Tip 7. Shorter Is Often Better
Let me ask you a question. Do you read every word when you receive a long email message?
If you’re like most of us, the answer is “no.” Who really has the time to read a long message word-for-word? The longer the message is, the more likely the reader is to skim through it—possibly missing important details.
Get to the point of your message as quickly and concisely as you can. Usually, there’s no need to be overly wordy with your professional email messages.
Tip 8. Pay Attention to Your Subject Line
Your subject line is the first thing the recipient sees. If you use the wrong subject line, your recipient may skip over your message. Or, even worse, they may mistake it for spam.
To make sure your professional email gets read, be specific in the subject line. An email with a specific subject line like “DEF Project Assignments for May” is more likely to be read than an email with a vague subject line like “Important Message.”
Tip 9. Use a Template
If you find yourself frequently answering the same questions by email, you can save a lot of time by using email templates. With an email template, you don’t have to write every professional email from scratch. Instead, you start with a well-written template and customize it to your needs.
Email templates are easier to use than you might realize.
Tip 10. Reread Your Email
Proofreading is just as important as ever in 2017. You can catch most mistakes if you carefully reread each professional email before you send it. And let’s face it, an email full of typos and other errors is unprofessional and makes you look bad.
Pay attention to specific details such as individual and company names as well as dates, times and dollar amounts. A typo in these areas could be embarrassing or even damaging for your business.
Tip 11. Don’t Use Reply All
It’s a good idea to carefully consider who you send each message to. If someone doesn’t need to receive a message, don’t copy them on it. They’ll only be annoyed by getting an unneeded email that adds to their inbox clutter. They may even ignore future emails from you when you really do have something to say to them.
Additionally, automatically hitting Reply All each time you send a message may cause your message to be sent to the wrong person. So, get out of the habit of using the Reply All option.
Instead, control who receives your message by creating your own custom email group and use that. By giving serious thought to who gets your email messages you show respect for your contacts.
Tip 12. Learn to Schedule Professional Emails With Boomerang
What if you could control when a recipient receives your emails? Wouldn’t you rather send your messages when you know the reader will be available to review them?
The good news is, with email tools like Boomerang you can have that kind of control over what you send and when you send it in 2017. Boomerang works with popular email platforms like Gmail and Outlook.
Tip 13. Integrate your Inbox With a Task Tool
For many of us, opening an email means getting a work assignment. Many professional emails require follow up of some sort—often a task that must be performed or another message that must be written. Email tasks can seem overwhelming unless you discover a way to manage them.
One way to manage email tasks and insure that none fall through the cracks is with a task tool. Gmail has a helpful task tool that integrates your inbox with a task list.
Tip 14. Combine Multiple Inboxes into One
Do you still have a list of email addresses you run through each time you check your messages? Logging in and out of various email platforms is a nuisance and can take extra time. Streamline the process of checking your email by combining multiple inboxes into one.
Tip 15. Schedule a Time to Check Your Email
Checking email constantly can slow you down and interrupt your thought processes. Yet, many of us have email notifications turned on, meaning we check each message as soon as we get it.
Not only is this unnecessary for most of us, it also hampers productivity. Unless your business requires that you respond to each new message as quickly as possible, it’s better to schedule two or three times during the day to check and process email. Setting aside dedicated email times frees up the rest of your day so that you can focus on other tasks.
Tip 16. Use Inbox Zero Techniques
In fact, most of us can learn to manage our email more efficiently and improve our productivity in 2017. There’s a technique for managing email more effectively called Inbox Zero. To learn more about this, Google “Inbox Zero”. Envato has a free 24-page PDF on it that you can download.
Tip 17. Use Email Security
No list of professional email tips would be complete without a mention of email security. Lately the news has been full of stories about hacked email accounts and other online security breaches.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to online security, there are some steps you should take to protect yourself and make sure your email is more secure. Nearly every email platform has some security measures in place, but often users don’t take advantage of them.
To protect your online information, it’s important to learn everything you can about your email platform’s security tools. Once you’ve learned about them, put them to use.
Conclusion: Take These Pro Email Tips & Put Them to Work
Dealing with your professional emails may take up a lot of your time. Managing your email accounts may even seem a bit overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Many of the professional email tips in this article can be used with any email platform. Adopting them will save you time and help you to become more productive in 2017.
So, whether you’re composing emails, checking email, or trying to organize your email system—you can be more efficient.
Do you have a great email tip or killer email strategy? If so, share it in a comment below.
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