Email Etiquette – The Do’s and Dont’s of Professional & Networking Emails
Never underestimate the importance of a first impression – because it lasts! Despite the numerous channels available to people to connect, email remains one of the most commonly used professional communication tools.
Whether you’re interacting with hiring managers, current employers, or colleagues, you’ll want to be as polished as possible in your messages.
Below are some Do’s and Don’ts on how to put your best virtual foot forward every time you hit “send”:
- Spell check. Spell checking should be obvious, but you would be shocked by how many people send emails with spelling errors. Additionally, use a program (such as Grammarly, which is easily installed on your computer, iPhone, etc.) to make sure that you are not making grammatical errors. To avoid inadvertently sending an unfinished email, add your recipient’s email address after you compose and edit your message.
- Keep it simple and organized. To present your thoughts efficiently, organize your email into an introduction, body, and closing. This allows recipients to scan your email and determine the main purpose, which busy professionals will appreciate. Limiting yourself to just one main question or point per email will also make the email easier to understand and more manageable for the recipient to process and respond to.
- Follow up. Especially if you’re applying for jobs, following up will set you apart from the dozens who don’t.
- Have a mutual contact introduce you if you can. Cold emailing is hard. If you share a mutual contact with the person you want to email, see if they could contact the recipient to make an introduction.
- Be informal. People are often turned off by informal emails because it implies a lack of effort on the sender’s part. Accordingly, there are some emails you likely want to write from your computer rather than your phone.
- Delay your response. Reply promptly to serious messages. If you need more than 24 hours to collect information or make a decision, send a brief response explaining the delay.
- Email on the weekend. Even if you are working over the weekend, depending on your work circumstances, it is better to save a draft of the email and send it during the week. Doing so will lessen the chance that your email will get buried come Monday morning. It may also inconvenience the recipient to receive an email over the weekend that they know they could have handled on Monday.
- Follow up too often. I recommend the following: follow up five business days after your initial email, then one week after that. Then move on because you do not want to waste your own time or imply that you do not respect the recipient’s time.
Though the world has become more informal due to rapid technological advances, email etiquette is not dead, and your emails carry a lot of weight. Adopting these Do’s and Don’ts will go a long way in ensuring you maintain professional respect and positive relations with your recipients, which will assist you for years to come.