By Jack Phillips
Email is more than just a communication method used by business. When used properly it’s a method for documenting your workflow and ensures objectives are achieved in an efficient and timely manner.
13 million Australians spend 18 hours a day online according to Exact Target’s 2012 Digital Down Under Report. It is a fact that social media is revolutionising the way people communicate. Even though these statistics show that people are increasingly spending more time online across more and more channels email is still the primary communication method for most Australians.
Each and every day our inboxes pile up with correspondence. Everybody has something to say and something urgent to be dealt with. When it comes to business, understanding how to effectively write emails properly will help cut down the amount of correspondence needed in order to get a job done and streamline, rather than complicate, business communication channels.
In order to facilitate good email communication you need to have good netiquette. This term is a contraction of the words "net" and "etiquette" and refers to the set of rules governing correct email behaviour.
This ensures that you respect the roles and communication channels of colleagues and clients and get the same respect in return. They serve as guidelines for civility and proper conduct, so that all users can act in a like manner considerate of others.
So what is good netiquette?
To start with you need to understand how to greet your recipient. Much like a face-to-face conversation, email messages should start with a proper greeting. Common greetings include the recipient's name, "Hello," "Good Morning" or "Good Afternoon."
You need to know who to send it to and how they should be looped into group correspondence. Email messages are often shared between more than two recipients, so it's important to identify which recipients go on the "To" line, and which recipients go on the "cc" or "bcc" lines - that is people who need to be in the loop, but are not being personally addressed in the email.
You need to know how to write clearly and concisely as well as how to sign off before you hit “send”. Having good email netiquette also includes knowing when you shouldn’t be sending an email at all but picking up the phone to speak to the person instead. It's not always easy to handle company projects and issues via email. Sometimes, it's even necessary to meet in-person to hash out details and move forward with complicated projects that involve a lot of details and a large team of people to handle.
Gone are the days when business dealings were primarily handled in-person or over the phone. Email is the preferred method of communicating in today's business environments and looks set to stay. But in order for this process to work properly you need to understand how to use it effectively.
It’s a method of communication that we use everyday but all to often it is used incorrectly. Thanks to the Internet, email is the primary communication method between people today and is now the application we turn to for both personal and professional contact especially when distance is at play.
But unlike face-to-face contact where it is easy to build up a trust and a relationship it can be difficult to put across those same thoughts, feelings and directions in the manner intended. Email can so often appear sterile and distant. People make all sorts of mistakes that can lead to miscommunication, embarrassment and in some cases a loss of employment.
However you can learn how to decode email messages in a way that will give you more time you get to the job at hand rather than wasting it trying to decipher unclear communication.
Learning to write a good email becomes important in this respect. It may sound dramatic but knowing that there is a face and a brand behind the address will help you build an effective line of communication rather than break it down.
You may have been using email in a professional capacity for years but no doubt you will have developed a whole host of bad habits without you even realising it. These habits could inadvertently be holding you back from progressing professionally and perhaps that promotion you have long been reaching after.
You need to discover how to “read between the lines” and in doing this you can quickly and effectively enhance the quality and effectiveness of what you are trying to say.
For more tips on using email and to find out how to can strike common mistakes from your communication read our guide on how to write effective emails to get ahead in your career.