Email Correspondence: Client vs. Professional

In your professional life, you have emails down to a science, but when it comes to your personal life, do you know how to transition from the expert to the client? While we are all boss ladies (and gentlemen) in the office, many of us struggle with how to communicate as a client in our personal lives… Ever been stuck waiting to hear back on an email you sent? I think we all have. As the thought crosses your mind, “Should I email him/her again.. call instead? How long should I wait for an answer? Did I write too much?,” you start to wonder how to best communicate and follow up with others. Truthfully, this can be one of the more frustrating things we face in everyday life as part of a technology reliant society. So, here are my tips to help alleviate some of this stress!

  1. Timeliness
    • As a client, it is just as important to be responsive in a timely manner in your personal life as it is in your professional life. While you may be the client, the person you are communicating with is a professional and this is his/her business so he/she is relying on you!
    • If you know you are going to be away for a while or unable to communicate regularly, let your contact know that in advance. Anyone appreciates a heads up that allows them to know when the appropriate time to follow up will be. If you are off enjoying a vacation, no one wants to be the individual who nagged you during it! ūüėČ
  2. Include all the details
    • Rather than bombarding someone with piecemeal emails each containing one question, send one concise email including all the details and questions you have on a topic. Be specific so your contact knows what to expect from you as a client, but also has all the tools he/she needs to do the job well.
    • If you are unsure about something, ask the professional. I guarantee he/she prefers to answer your questions ahead of time rather than be in a situation where a misunderstanding happens.
      • Side note: If you have been provided with resources from your contact, be sure to read and review them. It is very possible your questions will be answered there!
    • Schedule a call or meeting to discuss everything. While email is great for keeping a record of things, it is always possible that something will be understood differently by the recipient. Having the opportunity to talk through everything will clear-up any questions or differences of ideas!
  3. Know the best form of communication for the person you are contacting: This is possibly one of the most important factors in following up with an individual.
    • If your contact prefers email, then stick to email. Depending on the importance/deadline of what you are discussing, that will give you an idea of when to follow up (i.e. a week for something further out, two days for something upcoming in the next week, etc.). If it is an urgent matter, I highly suggest flagging the email when sending and honestly, simply call the person. Sometimes, if you need an answer, you just need the answer and promptly.
    • Despite the fact that we all have technology, it does not mean it is the way we all prefer to communicate. For some, receiving an email is simply a method to get the information in writing or have the needed documents provided to them; however, for these people, the true preferred means of communication is a phone call or in-person meeting. For an individual with this preference, send the email and then immediately follow it up with a calendar invite for a call or meeting to discuss the information. For something on a smaller scale, it is always OK to call your contact after sending the email to quickly talk through it or even to leave a voicemail explaining.
    • Similar to the individual who prefers a call, some people prefer to communicate over text message. While I do not recommend this as your primary source of communication, it can be a great follow-up tool! If you are awaiting a response to your email and you know your contact is OK with and prefers texting, send a respectful text message following up. Something similar to, “Hi Ann! Checking in to follow up on the email I sent a couple days ago. Will you let me know when you have a chance to review it? Happy to setup a call to discuss or feel free to email back with your feedback. Thanks!”

Now lets get out there and dominate the communication world on all fronts! For more information on general email etiquette, read my previous post!

Cheers y’all!

AB

The Contents of a Great Email

In today’s day and age, email keeps us far more connected than ever before. Rather than picking up the phone or walking across the office building, we continuously send emails to our colleagues, friends, and family regarding matters from business to social plans and everything in between. So, how do you know if your email gets read or better yet, how do you know if your email actually¬†served its purpose?

To ensure your emails are getting the attention they deserve, and by that I mean the right kind of attention, here are my tips for the contents of a great email:

  1. Subject Line
    • Use the Important Information Only.¬†I once was working with a hospital director’s executive assistant on multiple visits for distinguished visitors and the aide asked, “For visit requests, please put Date of Visit, Name/Title of Visitor, and Meet Time in the subject line so I can see the main points quickly. Once I see that, I will know exactly what I am looking for in regards to planning and level of importance.”
    • Do Not Write the Message in the Subject Line.¬†The subject line serves as a preview to the contents of the email, it should not read like a sentence or go on past the viewing pane.
    • Stick to the Subject.¬†If you need to discuss multiple topics that are unrelated with the recipient, I highly suggest doing so in different emails. This (1) ensures all your topics will be seen equally and (2) reduces confusion when answering questions by eliminating bunched responses. If you do decide to include everything in 1 email, use an overarching subject line.
  2. Reply vs. Reply All
    • If you are placed on a group email thread and need to ask just the sender a question, reply only to the sender. There is no need to clutter everyone else’s inbox.
    • If you are sent a group invitation for an event, party, etc., submit your R.s.v.p. to the sender only. If you would like to know if other people are going, simply ask them yourself.
    • Only “Reply All” when all those on the message traffic will benefit from you sharing the information and it is pertinent to them.¬†If you are the only person on the ‚ÄúTo‚ÄĚ line and the other people copied all need the information or are waiting for your direction then a ‚Äúreply all‚ÄĚ is appropriate.
  3. “To,” “CC,” and “Bcc.”¬†Always pay attention to which line your name is placed on in the email and be discerning when adding people to those categories on your own email.
    • “To:” This means the email is directly to you and it is your responsibility to reply to the sender.
    • “Cc:” You are copied on the email for your awareness, but it is not your responsibility to take action. Allow the person on the “to” line to take action and send the first reply. If you need to comment or add information, do so after he/she sends the first reply.
    • “Bcc:” You are blind copied on this email, meaning it is only for your awareness. You should not reply, especially not reply all, because the other recipients do not know you were included. If you need to discuss something from the email with the sender, seek out that individual only (I suggest in person or on the phone).
  4. Marking Something with “High Importance”
    • Only use this flag if your email is truly of high importance and needs someone’s attention quickly. Overuse of this flag will result in people skipping your emails because they will believe nothing is actually “highly important.”
    • If something is truly important and you do not receive a response in an appropriate amount of time, call the person rather than sending him/her another email.
  5. Greeting
    • Always include a greeting to the recipient at the beginning of your email. The type of greeting you use will vary based on the email being sent (formal, professional, personal/informal), but no matter what a greeting is always important! Here are a few examples:
      • Formal: “Dear,” always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Professional: “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening”¬†always followed by the proper form address (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Military Rank, etc.).
      • Personal/Informal: “Hey, Hi, Hey there, etc.” followed by however you address the person in your personal life.
  6. Closing / Signature Block. Yes, you need one! Do not ever send an email without signing it!
    • Use a proper closing that reflects the relationship/type of email you are writing:
      • Formal: “Sincerely,” “Very Respectfully,” “Respectfully,”
      • Professional: You can close with something that reflects your personality yet is still appropriate. For example, “Have a great day!,” “All the Best,” “Many Thanks,” etc.
      • Personal/Informal: This type of closing is completely up to you and the relationship you have with the recipient!
    • Clearly identify yourself. Use your full name, title/position, and company affiliation in your signature block.
    • Include your contact information.¬†Your signature block should include your contact number, mailing address, and company/organization web address.
      Be sure to use the signature block template from your company/organization!
  7. Review your email before hitting send!
    • Check your email for grammar and missing words (when you type fast, it is bound to happen).
    • Remove any uncommon abbreviations or text message lingo/short words.
    • Be cautious when using emoticons. Emoji‚Äôs are appropriate in informal emails or internal correspondence (between coworkers), but should not be used for professional or formal correspondence.
    • Ensure the email is addressed to the appropriate people on the appropriate¬†recipient¬†lines.
    • If you stated in the email you included an attachment, be sure it is attached before sending!

By incorporating these touches into your emails, it will ensure you have proper email etiquette leading to your email receiving the type of attention and replies you desire.

Cheers y’all!

AB

Email Etiquette: Handling a Busy Inbox

In both our professional and personal lives, we often receive a high volume of emails on a daily basis. On those days when your inbox is so full you are almost scared to open it, how should you handle the massive amount of inquiries that need a response? Here are my tips for managing a busy inbox!

  1. Wait at least 30 minutes before checking your email in the morning
    • Help yourself to start the day on the right foot. No one wants to wake up and start answering emails right away. So, give yourself 30 minutes to get your day started without the distraction of technology. If there is a work or personal emergency that requires your immediate attention, you will get a phone call about it, not an email.
    • If you start answering emails, I am rather sure you will never be ready for work on time. Get yourself ready to conquer the day then go conquer!
  2. Skim your inbox to find the high priority subjects
    • When you first open your inbox, start by looking through the recipients and the subject lines to ensure you read the high priority emails first.
    • Make a mental list of the priority of the rest of your emails and work from that point.
    • If you know it is junk mail, delete it.
  3. Read your inbox emails and your written replies more than once
    • If you have an email that you know requires your undivided attention or further research, mark it is as unread and return to it once you have all the information you need. Nothing is worse than responding to an email and realizing you missed the key questions that needed a response or you left out the bulk of your reasoning and needed follow-up questions.
    • Read your reply more than once to ensure you hit the key points and your grammar, delivery, and thought process come across as you wish.
    • If you have an assistant or co-worker, ask them to proofread your reply if you are unsure about something.
    • If you are writing about a sensitive or emotional topic, write a draft response then step away from it for a while. Come back to it when you have thought about it more and then edit it. If you need to, do this a few times to ensure your email reads as you wish.
  4. Unsubscribe to the hordes of advertisements you receive
    • Every store, news outlet, etc. wants you to be part of their listserv… It is OK to say no or to unsubscribe.
    • Keep the places/sources you regularly use and unsubscribe from those that simply clog your inbox with the daily/weekly reminders.
  5. If you are going out town or will be unavailable by email, use an out-of-office automatic reply
    • Not only does this help to manage people’s expectations of when they will receive a response, it will also provide them with contact information in case of an emergency.
    • An example of a simple, yet effective out-of-office reply is:
      “Sir/Ma’am,

      Thank you for you for contacting me. I am out of the office without access to/with limited access to my email and will not return until Monday, 23 February. If this is an urgent matter, please contact my office (or specify a co-worker if he/she is taking over your work in your absence) at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

      I look forward to speaking with you soon. Have a great day!”

  6. Keep all your emails in archived/organized folders
    • You never know when you may need to reference an old email or find someone’s contact information.
    • Once you have responded to an email, move it into the proper folder. This will let you know you have replied to the email, reduce the number of emails in your inbox, and give you a place to look back to if you need to review a message in the future.
  7. Some emails need an in-person or phone response
    • If you receive an email you know you need to respond to, but do not feel it is appropriate to respond via email or that a more in-depth conversation should be had, call the person or schedule a meeting to discuss the matter.
  8. Have a technology curfew
    • Set a time for yourself when you put your phone/tablet/laptop away at night.
    • Do one final review of your inbox and ensure nothing urgent came in or that you missed anything from earlier in the day then turn it off until tomorrow! As I said about the morning email check, if there is a work or personal emergency that requires your immediate attention, you will get a phone call about it, not an email.
    • A lot of research has been showing exposure to blue-light (the light in tech gadgets) at night, prevents a good night’s sleep and reduces the amount of time you spend in REM sleep. A recent Washington Post article speaks to research on the matter.

I hope these tips help you to manage your busy inbox more successfully! Most importantly, remember everyone deserves a response, but be mindful of how and when you respond.

Sparkle On,

Alexandra