8 ways to email like a professional

By Diane Sofranec, Managing Editor

The number of emails I send and receive throughout the workday never ceases to amaze me. It’s a lot. But for that, I am thankful. I would much rather communicate with colleagues via email than telephone.

Mailbox_email_535x518Why? I work in an office of cubicles and sit near a hallway that acts as a megaphone. When I’m on the phone, my coworker on the other side of the office can clearly hear my conversation — and I can hear his.

But keeping the peace is not the only reason I prefer emails. Emails serve as a record of a conversation. There’s no second-guessing what was communicated because it’s right there, in writing. That’s why it’s important to craft succinct messages that convey professionalism. Here’s how:

1. Get to the point.

Keep your message as brief as you possibly can. Stay on topic. Be clear. You are at work, where there’s no time for colleagues to read a 10-paragraph manifesto. Write a subject line that clearly states the purpose of your message.

2. Eliminate private information.

As you write your message, keep in mind that the recipient may forward it to others. Do not include information you would not want others to know. Even if you request confidentiality, you have no control over what the recipient will do with your email. Once you send your email, your message is no longer private. Use the telephone to discuss matters you prefer to keep private.

3. Think before you type.

Say what you mean. Read your message before you send it. Does it make sense? Does it accurately convey your thoughts? Would you be embarrassed if someone other than the recipient read it?

4. Send anytime.

What I love most about email is that it’s available 24/7, so I can send and receive messages after work hours. That doesn’t mean the recipient will read my message at midnight, but it does mean I can cross off a task from my to-do list or handle a pressing issue sooner rather than later. Haven’t we all had a workaholic boss who sent emails in the wee hours of the morning and on weekends?

5. Respond within 24-48 hours.

You shouldn’t have to check your work emails over the weekend. But you should respond to your messages first thing Monday morning. During the workday, set aside time to check your messages and don’t put off sending a response. It’s more efficient to read a message once, respond, and move on.

6. Remember, you’re on the job.

Your emails are a reflection on you and the company for which you work. Keep your messages professional. Do not write like you text, or use exclamation points and emoticons. Do not use profanity or racist comments. Do not write in all caps (“yelling” in an email is unprofessional anyway). Always say please and thank you.

7. Use a signature line.

Don’t assume the recipient of your message knows who you are (unless you correspond on a regular basis). Create a signature line in your email client and use it every time. Be sure to add your full name, current title, company name and phone number.

8. Address the message last.

Have you ever accidentally hit send before your message was ready? I have, and that’s why I write the message first, proofread it, and then add my attachments if I have any, the subject line and the recipient’s email address. Now recipients always receive the completed message I want them to have.

Diane Sofranec has more than 25 years of B2B media experience. She joined North Coast Media in 2013 as a digital content producer and is now managing editor of the company’s Pest Management Professional magazine.

Photo: ©istock.com/leszekglasner