12 Most Simple Email Tips
I think sometimes that social media can be distilled into a much simpler concept: Communication! Tweets and status updates are deceptively simple because readers know has been left out and can read between the lines.
But there is a big “but” involved with this one.
There are still plenty of people who miss the nuances of this type of communication, especially when it gets fast and furious. Have you been cc’d on a group message that turns into 25 replies before you have even had a chance to read it? That experience can make you phobic, but there are simple rules you can follow that make everyone’s days easier.
I want to talk about email because I still see many mistakes when people reach out to me as a blogger. I am not just a writer — I have to promote my work, network, and find new clients too. Chances are likely that I may not be able to respond to your generous offer as soon as you would like.
You can follow these steps below for better communication over email.
1. Be brief
People are busy. Think of your own experience — being brief and to the point will get you more responses every time.
2. Make it easy to say yes
Don’t make people think. If you want to set up a meeting, send 2-3 different times that work for you. This makes it easier for the recipient to check their schedule.
3. Avoid “do not”
Negative statements can be confusing. Rephrase them. Tell people what they should do instead.
4. Use mail goggles
There is a wonderful option for Gmail called mail goggles, and it can be found under the labs tab in your settings. It is like a sobriety test for sleep deprived thinking — if you don’t pass then the email doesn’t send. Turn it on for those work sessions at 1 am.
5. Get a contact manager
There are some great Apps , like Gist and Rapportive, for managing contacts. Most will give you a picture, social media profiles, and even a bio. It is a great way to remind yourself of who someone is before you send an email.
6. Schedule emails
There are also apps that let you schedule your emails. I prefer Boomerang. Just like social media, there are better times to send emails than others. Avoid getting buried in someone’s inbox by sending it at the right time.
7. Reach out to others
We have a tendency to connect over Twitter and other social networks, which means that email is being underutilized. This is still a good method that allows you to add some personal touches to your communication.
8. Read out loud
Along with carefully re-reading your text, you need to also read your writing out loud. You will pick up many grammatical errors this way. Nothing is more embarrassing than sending a business email with grammar or spelling mistakes. It just makes you look bad.
9. Edit for tone
Tone is crucial. You have to realize with brevity that you are going to lose context. Re-read your emails — if it feels awkward or confusing then you need to do an edit before hitting send.
WIFM, What Is In It for Me. We may not like using this principle but appealing to the ego works. Make the benefit clear to your recipient when you write. State it explicitly.
Lets talk about spam! If you send emails without regard to your audience then you are likely to be sent to the spam folder. It is okay to have a pre-formatted template — just make sure to edit and add a personal touch before sending.
12. Do it before you need it
Email is one of the most effective ways to build a network. Don’t always email your contacts when you need something — also ask about their families or a vacation. After all, they are people too with lives outside of work.
Bill Jensen wrote one of my favorite business survival books, “The Simplicity Handbook.” Much of the book is concerned about how we communicate at work. I recommend downloading this free excerpt , “Communication Tools.” Chris Westfall also wrote an excellent post, “12 Most Unnecessary Email Mistakes,” as did Paul Biedermann with “12 Most Don’t Be a Dumbass Rules for Email.”
What is an email mistake you have made? What did you learn?
Featured image courtesy of Bruno Girin via Creative Commons.