Email Etiquette

August 11, 2013 / By

So as an email veteran and power user I have just about seen it all when it comes to personal & business communication via this wonderful channel we call email. The great thing about email is that it is a historical record of conversations, negotiations, deals and ideas. Because of this I try to keep all important conversation tracked and documented (emails are also solid contracts). This is also an important reason why you need to be very careful in the way you approach email both in business and in your personal life.

Much has been written about email etiquette and seeing as the topic is close to my heart I would like to throw in my 2 cents. Here are the strategies I try to live by in the email world:

ALWAYS RESPOND WHERE POSSIBLE

I have received over 30,000 emails in the past 12 months and have responded to EVERY PERSONAL EMAIL which required response (not spam, sales, deals etc). Whether this is a cold or warm email, a potential client, someone looking for work, friends seeking advice or something out of the ordinary I can always spare a minute or two to reply, even if that reply is a ‘No sorry I can’t help with this’. I believe if someone has taken the time to write to me personally the least I can do is offer a response.

RESPOND QUICKLY

This is something I strongly believe in and have found to be a big driver in the relationships in have built with clients & partners.

Obviously there are times when responding is impossible (sleep, travel, meetings, lunch etc) but there is generally no excuse not to respond to an email within 24-48 hours. This can be a simple acknowledgement that the email has been received and that I will be doing ‘x’ about it.

The way I manage this is by setting aside allocated email time, where I switch everything off and focus on responding to and actioning emails. I do this in the morning (1 hour) and in the evening (15 minutes) and then at free times throughout the day. When I am in meetings or out of the office the first thing I do when I return to my laptop is spend 5 minutes focusing on my inbox and getting on top of it. I find myself doing this between 2-5 times a day. Employing this strategy means that there are very few occasions I don’t respond to an email within 24 hours.

NEVER EMAIL WHILE ANRGY

This goes without saying but it is incredible how often I have seen it happen and ruin relationships. Every relationship (business & personal) goes through tough times. In those heated moments you need to stay away from the email. If I read an email which makes me upset or frustrates me I flag it away and make sure to respond to it after a few hours.

WRITE PROPERLY

This is a personal pet peeve but I can’t stand people who write emails which are not properly formatted or use bad grammar & spelling (most email clients have a sell checker built in!).

I find it hard to believe anyone is so busy that the extra 1/4 of a second it takes to capitalise words is too difficult. Same goes for paragraphs, full stops & commas.

The worst offenders are job seekers. I cannot even count the amount of times I have received a “personal email” from someone seeking a job or internship where my name, our business name and sometimes their own name is spelt wrong and not capitalised.

So there you have it, my rant on email etiquette. If you feel differently or enjoy a nice email battle you are welcome to email me. You should be able to find my address without too much hassle.

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