10 Obvious Tips for Email (that most people don’t follow)

Like it or not, most professional communications nowadays is on email.  And if communications are about building personal connections and trust (which they are), then getting email right is important.  It’s a way to differentiate yourself in a crowded, noisy world.

So here are 10 tips for good emailing, especially if you’re in the relationship business (which you are):

  1. Never email someone who isn’t expecting to hear from you.  Or if you do, you’d better have a heck of a way to introduce yourself.  If they don’t know you or why you’re contacting them, you’re sending spam.
  2. Overwhelm people with your responsiveness.  This matters more than you think.  Get back to them quickly.  If it’s going to take you more than a day to respond, let them know.
  3. Be personal.  Have your personality come through. Really. Give them a glimpse of where you are, of what’s going in the world or in your world – something that places your email in a place and in time and shares a little bit about where your head is when writing the note.
  4. Use different tones of voice for different people.  Formal or informal can work for email, it just depends who you’re writing (but informal still means full sentences).  Just don’t be generic.  Ever.
  5. Be concise.
  6. Be specific.  Tell someone why you’re writing them.  If you’re asking them for something, ask.  Be clear, direct, and polite.
  7. Assume people are reading on a handheld device – even if they’re not, that will keep you short and to the point, and you’ll avoid graphics and tables and fancy stuff.
  8. EVERY email you write needs to strengthen and reinforce the relationship you have with someone.  Every one.  No exceptions.
  9. Think twice before you reply all.  Then think a third time.  And never, ever, reply all to say “Thanks” or “OK.”
  10. If you’re hesitating about sending an email, pick up the phone.  Don’t hide behind an impersonal medium, especially for tough conversations.

(Oh, and one more thing that most people will ignore: filing email in folders is for the birds.  It takes way too much time, and your email Inbox is not a to do list.  Use search instead.  MSN or Google Desktop really work, or if you’re lucky enough to have a Mac, use the built-in search feature.)

5 thoughts on “10 Obvious Tips for Email (that most people don’t follow)

  1. I absolutely love this post. Your points on emailing are salient and should be adopted by all. Thanks for sharing them. I intend to keep them with me at all times.

  2. I disagree on the folder point. Not for the faint of heart, but it is doable to file your mail and make sense of it.

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