It’s 2016. We have a lot to do this year and the last thing any of us wants is to make a bad impression by the way we talk, write, or simply engage with others on and offline. Email etiquette is a must. Whether pitching to a new client, responding to an opportunity, promotion or colleague, we need to take our writing skills to the next level to be taken seriously and respected as #GirlBosses. Below are a few tips I’ve come to find useful over the last three years of owning my business and taking my email etiquette from college undergrad to CEO status.
Proofread and Spell Correctly. Poor writing skills are a direct reflection on YOU! You may have been rushed to finish or send out a memo, or you may go over office hours, but it always is better to think, write, proof and then proof read again before you click ‘send’. The matter of minutes this will take will benefit your professional reputation and help you to be a better writer overall. I keep a writing guide in my desk and constantly google the correct way to spell things or synonyms to use in place of stagnant words (i.e. exceptionally instead of very, delighted or pleased instead of happy…). This always helps me enhance the way I communicate with people that I may be intimidated by or unsure of how to approach while trying to be courteous and polite but also proficient and to the point.
Have a Meaningful Subject Line. You need to relate the message you are sending within a short sentence. This is the first thing your reader sees so it needs to grab their attention as a priority to respond to or you may risk being pushed to the back of the email reply list that inevitably piles up for many. As first responder to my agency’s messages, I literally don’t have time to waste on trying to figure out what models are emailing for when all I get is a “hello” in a subject line and a few photos attached to an email. That puts a submission (no matter how beautiful the girl is) to the back of the line.
No Emojis. When I see an emoji in a work email it literally makes my toes curl! It reminds me of AIM or MSN Messenger days when we talked to friends for hours yet literally nothing was discussed or fully understood because 80% of the messages were funny faces that had to be deciphered as happy, annoyed, excited, etc. What a headache! Stick to words and only words. You can send emojis in texts to friends, family and lovers… but don’t expect a reply from your boss when you send him a kissy-face emoji at the end of your email or message.
Never Say Just. This has been a hard lesson for me. As I am constantly following up or pitching emails to potential clients, the phrase “Just wanted to check in” or “I just thought…” etc. The tone doesn’t make it seem like a matter of importance and miscommunicates the way you want your reader to hear your message.
Set a Positive Tone. You want to be nice but not soooooo nice via email. Emails should feel like a handshake or a meeting when talking with clients and employees/collegues. Too many exclamation points can feel more like hugs which aren’t standard business practice in the office so they shouldn’t be in emails. The point is, being positive doesn’t mean you have to use “!” to get your point across. If you are ever in a position of responding to an unprofessional email, use phrases that are diplomatic and never come off defensively. If you make any kind of personal attack it will come off condescending, rude and very unprofessional.
Followup Immediately. Set your away settings when out of office and make sure to offer other ways for personnel to contact you if you will not be looking at emails or in access to them for a matter of time. If you are waiting on someone to respond to your last email for a deadline or important answer, the easiest thing you can do is send a simple and brief message to convey a sense of urgency. If you still do not get a response, an old fashion phone call is better in my opinion than a 3rd email. If you do end up sending another email, make sure you let them know you will move on to find help or other options elsewhere after a final date or time.
Have a Signature. ‘Sent from my iPhone’ is not a signature. A sharp, creative and professional email signature is something that always impresses me. Whether personal or professional, email signatures don’t need to be pretty and have a huge photo of your face. It needs to be clear, clean and have a hint of personality. An email signature is a small yet important part of building your brand, business and social identity.
Write in Paragraphs. Each new task or point should be a separate paragraph. It’s easier on the viewers eyes, keeps things organized and can set a pace or change the tone appropriately when needed. It also helps you while drafting to make sure you’ve hit all of the points needed.
Always Sign Off. It’s been tricky balancing my relationships with models vs clients as I have closer ties to the girls I work with and how I communicate with them. ‘Best Regards’, ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Regards’ are sign offs that I typically use. If a holiday is approaching, address accordingly. Just don’t send a Christmas wish list or any lovey/mushy endings. That can take away from the email at large and give someone the wrong message.
Emails Last Forever. You don’t need to censor yourself, but just remember, emails last forever (unlike phone calls or in person conversations). Sometimes it seems easier to pick up the phone but crafting a good email and having record of your time, work and efforts is always positive when dealing with important matters. I try my best to emphasize to my models that I respond much faster to emails than I do texts, and I also keep track of important information like rates and job details on emails. If a text gets deleted or something were to happen to my phone I would lose a lot of information with no message trail.
Even after all of the guidelines and tips you can find on how to make the ‘perfect email’, don’t forget to be yourself. Our personalities get clouded the more time we spend online or in emails rather than in person. Ultimately, you should be confident in your personality and what you have to offer and the rest will come out the way it should.
Credit: Girl Boss Photos via Pinterest.