Nov 30, 2010

Top 10 E-Mail Mistakes

Today, doing business without e-mail would be unthinkable. It's become an indispensable business tool. But many people don't treat it with the gravity it deserves — they fire off half-formed thoughts or messages rife with errors. Of the many mistakes made via e-mail every day, here are the top 10, along with ways to avoid them:
  1. Not reading over what you have written. Spelling, grammar, errors of omission, and using the wrong word are very common. While your friends might not care, your business associates will. Taking a moment to reread your message before you hit Send is an easy way to make a better impression.
  2. Overreliance on e-mail. The business world has become increasingly impersonal. Business owners and managers e-mail employees who are sitting just 15 or 20 feet away. Likewise, important clients and other business associates might like to actually hear from you once in a while. Don’t replace all human contact with e-mail. Get up and talk to employees face to face, and use the phone now and then.
  3. Failing to respond promptly. Don't let e-mails sit in your inbox unanswered. Strive to reply to all e-mail within a time appropriate to the situation. If you'll be out of town, use your e-mail client's auto-reply function to let people know when you'll respond to them.
  4. Form e-mails. Customers and other business associates appreciate a personal touch. Even if the volume of e-mail you receive forces you to depend on "canned" e-mail responses, add a personal greeting or otherwise personalize your form e-mails.
  5. Replying to the wrong party. If the e-mail was sent to everyone in the office and you only need to respond to one person, do not hit Reply to All. Likewise, if you mean to forward an e-mail, be sure not to hit Reply. Pay attention when responding to e-mails, and check the To line before you finally hit Send.
  6. Conducting urgent communications via e-mail. Not everyone checks e-mail every 15 minutes. If a situation is urgent, pick up the phone and call the person you need to speak to.
  7. Using confusing e-mail addresses. Whenever possible, your e-mail address should be your first initial and last name @ your company, first name @ your company, or both names together perhaps separated by an underscore or a dot @ your company. Do not throw in numbers, middle initials, or anything else.
  8. Continuing endless e-mail correspondence. You do not need to include the full text of an e-mail thread. Delete everything but the text of the most recent message; it makes e-mail much easier to read and deal with.
  9. Rambling. Many people prefer to conduct business via e-mail because it saves time. Therefore, keep your e-mail messages short and to the point.
  10. Ignoring attachment etiquette. Here are the common rules for attachments. Learn them and live by them:
  • Do not open an attachment from anyone you don't know, unless you've been told to expect such an attachment.
  • When sending an attachment, make it clear in the body of the e-mail what the attachment consists of.
  • Unless you're sending something in plain text, Microsoft Word, or Adobe Acrobat format, do not assume the recipient has the software to view your attachment. Find out ahead of time. 
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