The Top Twelve E-Mail Mistakes
That Can Sabotage Your Career
to your office from an afternoon meeting and decide to check e-mail.
You wonder where your day went after spending hours downloading
messages, reading some, deleting others, crafting replies and
filing those that you want to work on later. Your e-mail box was
full when you arrived at work this morning and tomorrow promises
to be no different.
As the e-mail
explosion shows no signs of abating, your e-mail has become as
much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear,
the postal letters you write (assuming you still do), the greeting
on your voice mail and the handshake you offer. If you want to
impress on every front and build positive business relationships,
pay attention to your e-mail and steer clear of these top twelve
1. Omitting the subject line. We are way past the time when we didn't realize
the significance of the subject line. It makes no sense to send
a message that reads "no subject" and seems to be about
nothing. Given the huge volume of e-mail that each person receives,
the subject header is essential if you want your message read
any time soon. The subject line has become the hook.
2. Not making your subject line meaningful. Your header should be pertinent
to your message, not just "Hi" or "Hello."
The recipient is going to decide the order in which he reads e-mail
based on who sent it and what it is about. Your e-mail will have
lots of competition.
e-mail is as much a part of your professional image as the
clothes you wear, the greeting on your voice mail, and the
handshake you offer...
3. Failing to change the header to correspond with the subject. For example,
if you are writing your web publisher, your first header may be
"Web site content." However, as your site develops and
you send more information, label each message for what it is,
"contact info," "graphics," or "home
page." Don't just hit "reply" every time. Adding
more details to the header will allow the recipient to find a specific
document in the message folder without having to search every
one you sent. Start a new message if you change the subject all
4. Not personalizing your message to the recipient. E-mail is informal but it still
needs a greeting. Begin with "Dear Mr. Broome," "Dear
Jim," "Hello Jim," or just "Jim." Failure
to put in the person's name can make you and your e-mail seem
5. Not accounting for tone. When you communicate with another person face to face,
93% of the message is non-verbal. E-mail has no body language.
The reader cannot see your face or hear your tone of voice so chose your words carefully
and thoughtfully. Put yourself in the other person's place and think
how your words may come across in Cyberspace.
6. Forgetting to check for spelling and grammar. In the early days of e-mail,
someone created the notion that this form of communication did
not have to be letter perfect. Wrong. It does. It is a representation
of you. If you don't check to be sure e-mail is correct, people
will question the caliber of other work you do. Use proper capitalization
and punctuation, and always check your spelling. Remember that
your spellchecker will catch misspelled words, but not misused
ones. It cannot tell whether you meant to say "from"
or "form," "for" or "fro", "he"
7. Writing the great American novel. E-mail is meant to be brief. Keep your
message short. Use only a few paragraphs and a few sentences per
paragraph. People skim their e-mail so a long missive is wasted. If you find yourself
writing an overly long message, pick up the phone or call a meeting.
8. Forwarding e-mail without permission. Most everyone is guilty of this one,
but think about it. If the message was sent to you and only you, why
would you take responsibility for passing it on? Too often confidential information
has gone global because of someone's lack of judgment. Unless you are asked
or request permission, do not forward anything that was sent just to you.
9. Thinking that no one else will ever see your e-mail. Once it has left your
mailbox, you have no idea where your e-mail will end up. Don't
use the Internet to send anything that you couldn't stand to see on a billboard on
your way to work the next day. Use other means to communicate personal or sensitive
10. Leaving off your signature. Always close with your name, even though it
is included at the top of the e-mail, and add contact information
such as your phone, fax and street address. The recipient may want to call to talk
further or send you documents that cannot be e-mailed. Creating a formal signature
block with all that data is the most professional approach.
11. Expecting an instant response. Not everyone is sitting in front of the computer
with e-mail turned on. The beauty of Internet communication is
that it is convenient. It is not an interruption. People can check their
messages when it suits them, not you. If your communication is so important that
you need to hear back right away, use the phone.
12. Completing the "To" line first. The name or address of the person
to whom you are writing is actually the last piece of information
you should enter. Check everything else over carefully first.
Proof for grammar, punctuation, spelling and clarity. Did you
say what needed to be said? How was your "tone of voice?"
If you were the least bit emotional when you wrote the e-mail,
did you let it sit for a period of time? Did you include the attachment
you wanted to send? If you enter the recipient's name first, a mere slip of
the finger can send a message before its' time. You can never take it back.
everything easier and faster including making a powerful business
impression and establishing positive professional relationships.
The businessperson who uses the technology effectively and appropriately will see
the results of that effort reflected in the bottom line.