Whether it’s being educated in a British all-girls grammar school, or perhaps a desire to be taken as seriously as my older counterparts, I’ve always focused on maintaining my email etiquette. Let’s take a brush over the absolute basics:
Keep things simple. A lot of the time you won’t know the person you’re emailing. To begin, a simple yet descriptive subject line is a must. A simple salutation such as “Hello” or “Morning” are suitable starts, and “Thanks” is a nice sign-off before your name and signature. Crucially, if you don’t know someone’s name, DON’T guess it. This includes trying to guess it from their email address – recently I spent a good hour calling a poor woman ‘Chris’ before realizing that ‘Chris’ was, in fact, her surname.
A tidy signature is essential. No fancy colours, no wacky fonts. If in doubt, copy your boss’ signature exactly and replace in your contact details and job titles. Treat it like an e-business card – it’s a handy way for people to get in touch with you through all channels and introduces you & your company to whoever you email. If you’re putting something together from scratch, you can find my signature below as an example of a smart way to lay things out.
Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Did anybody else have a pen-pal? I didn’t, but at school I had to write letters to my fictional overseas friend in various languages (why is this still a learning tool? I’m quite certain Jeanette from Toulouse didn’t much care that I’d been kite-flying at the weekend) and I was always very conscious that my teacher would have to read it. To this day, I adopt the same mentality to all of my emails – would you be happy for your boss to read this? If the answer is ‘no’, do not hit send. Don’t you dare.
GRAMMAR AND SPELLING, PEOPLE! If I had a penny for every time I’d instantly deleted an email from someone that has spelling mistakes and poor grammar, I wouldn’t even need to intern. I’d be on my own private island somewhere riding around on a swan. It doesn’t take long to hit the spell-check button before you click send.
If you don’t have a good email address, get one. Maybe you don’t work for a specific company with its own domain name – these email tips are just as applicable to a freelancer or touring businesswoman. But if your email address is the same one you had when you were eleven years old – i.e. email@example.com, it’s time for a change. Even certain email services scream unprofessionalism. If you’re still operating with a Hotmail or an AOL handle, get out of your 90s timewarp and get a Gmail account. Go on. firstname.lastname@example.org will do. Go now.
Stick to these key points and you’ll find people will be a lot more willing to help you and you’ll get replies from more people in less time. If you can think of any more to add, or you’d just like to chat, then shoot me a beautifully-crafted, professional email at email@example.com. I dare ya.