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Karen Dwyer: Project Professionalism Through Effective E-mail Communication

Before you hit "send," make sure your message doesn't need a makeover.

A business’ image and success depends a great deal on the people it employs — you! How successful you are depends on your professionalism. Whether you are an entry-level employee or the chief financial officer, it’s important to be professional. How you communicate is a great start.

Karen Dwyer
Karen Dwyer
In this fast-paced world, your customers, clients and co-workers communicate through a variety of methods, but one of the most frequent and preferred methods is e-mail. Using e-mail as a primary means of communicating has become common for many people, both personally and professionally, and this is why it has become increasingly important to write effective, professional e-mails.

You want to make sure the language, tone, structure and style of your e-mail represents you in a professional manner since this is sometimes the only communication your contacts will receive. However, many people abuse e-mail and diminish their professionalism by spamming friends and co-workers with continual “forwards” and jokes.

Since e-mail serves a vital role in transmitting messages, it’s important to make sure to communicate effectively through the messages you send. Think about how you react to e-mails people send you. How many times have you received an e-mail you thought was rude? Do you have a co-worker who seems to have an endless amount of e-mails at his or her disposal to dispense to you at the most inopportune times? How about when you receive an e-mail with misspelled words or incomplete sentences — do you take them seriously, or do you make fun of them with your colleagues? When you send an e-mail, people on the other end may think these same things about you if you aren’t keeping your e-mail use professional.

Whether you’re sending an e-mail to people within your organization or to a client across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, it’s important to create effective, professional messages. Although it’s simple enough to type a message and hit “send,” do your e-mails need a makeover? Check out these tips for more professional, effective e-mails.

» Keep it short and sweet. Make your e-mails concise and to the point. Long e-mails can be overwhelming to the reader and, quite frankly, annoying to receive. If the reader has to sift through the content of your message to find the question or relevant information, chances are, he or she is not going to respond as quickly as you would like. To keep your e-mails short and relevant, limit your e-mails to five sentences or less, or try using bullet points for your main topics.

» Check your message before you send. If you find that some people aren’t taking your e-mails seriously, or worse, are misunderstanding them, take a closer look at what and how you’re writing. Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct. By using spell checker in your e-mail, you can check for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Read your content aloud, and put commas and periods where you pause in your sentence to make sure your message reads as intended. Make sure you’re using the right words to convey your meaning and desired tone as well.

» Forward “forwards” to the trash. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an annoying e-mail chain, you know how frustrating they can be. When you receive an e-mail that says “forward on to five people for good luck,” or, “for every person you send this to, you’ll receive a cash reward,” do everyone a favor and delete it. If you feel it necessary to forward a chain e-mail, wait until you have investigated the claim first on Snopes.com. This impartial site will tell you whether claims are true or false. Don’t diminish the importance of your other e-mails by spamming people with useless “forwards.”

» Use proper capitalization and punctuation. Writing ??? or !!! in your e-mails can make your tone seem condescending or aggressive, so try not to get into the habit of overpunctuating. It’s also impolite to use ALL CAPS IN YOUR MESSAGE because this is Web-speak for yelling. However, using all lower-case letters is too informal. So make sure you capitalize necessary letters, leave the rest alone and limit punctuation.

Karen Dwyer is owner of Express Employment Professionals, 9 W. Figueroa St. Click here to contact her or call 805.965.6900.

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