Craft Professional Emails Using These Tips

Originally Published Aug. 18, 2016

People often view email as a less formal means of communication.

This can be true when emailing family members and friends, but in my experience as a public relations professional, it is always better to veer more toward the formal side when reaching out to someone concerning business. Here are a few things to remember when communicating via email:

Pay Attention to Spelling and Grammar

We are accustomed to using abbreviations and shorthand when texting or communicating within the office; however, this is inappropriate when emailing for business purposes. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Shorthands like “SRY or “PLS”  are often not taken seriously in an office setting. Present yourself via email in a way that lets the receiver know you are intelligent, professional, and are to be taken seriously.

Include a Subject Line

Always include a straightforward subject line that clearly indicates to the receiver what the email entails. With an inbox overflowing with incoming messages, it is easy to overlook a vague email with no subject. Including a subject line will make it much easier for the receiver to get to your message, and there is a greater chance it will be read and replied to.

Address the Receiver by His or Her Name 

I appreciate when businesses that contact me take the time to find out who I am and address me by name in their emails. Emails that just say “Hi” and continue with a message or start with “To Whom It May Concern” are impersonal and show a lack of initiative by the sender to do a little research. I am always more inclined to answer an email when it is addressed to me.

Use a Proper Sign-Off

I recommend setting an automatic signature to your email containing your name, job title, company, phone number, email address, and any other information you would like the recipient to know or think they might need. This is extremely important, especially when communicating with someone new. Concluding with a proper sign-off leaves a good impression and allows the recipient to better understand who you are. By providing your phone number, email address, and even links to your social media accounts, the recipient will have many opportunities to get in touch with you and research your company and your work.

Warm It Up

Emails can easily feel impersonal and robotic. Don’t be afraid to add personality and emotions to your emails. If something excites you, add a couple of exclamation marks. An email that portrays you as a friendly yet serious businessperson will create a favorable impression. Just be careful not to overuse punctuation.

Bearing this in mind, determine your relationship with the person you are emailing. If you have been doing business with someone for many years and have developed a good relationship, it is definitely OK to let your email exchanges be more casual. Remember that formal does not necessarily mean “unfriendly.” Don’t be afraid to include exclamation marks or even a smiley face if you feel it is appropriate.

Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Leila created Be Inspired PR in 2007, the first full-service public relations agency dedicated to the wedding and special event industry. Leila works closely with wedding and lifestyle brands, educating clients on marketing strategies, rebuilding corporate image, securing top-level media placements, and helping them book new business.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.

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