5 Email Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

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Going out on a limb here: the days of phone calls and handwritten notes are over. Here is how to make sure your email is picture perfect.

I have talked about the power of networking. Nowadays, a big part of networking happens via email. Here is a syndicated article I wrote for Career Contessa about the 5 Email Mistakes You’re Probably Making. Enjoy!

GOING OUT ON A LIMB HERE: THE DAYS OF PHONE CALLS AND HANDWRITTEN NOTES ARE OVER.

OK, so the rise of email is not a new thing. But despite our daily use of our inboxes, you still see them all the time, those dreaded email oversights that make you wince (or want to hurl something). All too often, people treat emailing with too little thought—and it drives you (and us) crazy.

So here’s a haunting thought: what if you’re the problem emailer? Fear not, we’ve got your back. Here are five things to keep in mind before you click “send.”

1. YOU TREAT YOUR EMAILS LIKE YOU DO TEXTS (IT’S ALL COMING FROM AN IPHONE, RIGHT?)

So the world at large has lightened up on formalities, that’s not worth the risk of coming off as flippant or, worse, disrespectful. Keep your emails professional by starting with a formal greeting. “Hey” is too informal, so opt for “Hello”, “Hi,” or simply the recipient’s name to address your email. Tread carefully with your humor. Although we all appreciate a little positive attitude and pep in the workplace, excessive use of exclamation points might come off as a little overly excited via email. And please save the emojis for Facebook.

2. YOU ERR ON THE SIDE OF VAGUE

If you need something done on time, then you have to be clear. “I need it soon” just won’t cut it;. Instead, set a clear deadline—and a little bold-faced emphasis isn’t a bad idea, especially if you are working with a new client for the first time (we love the style “[Due Date: 5/1] Newsletter Images”). Keep your correspondence professional and straightforward, with statements such as: “Could I get an answer in the next hour? Otherwise, we will move forward using our best judgment.”

So the world has lightened up on formalities—that’s not worth the risk of coming off as flippant or, worse, disrespectful.

3. YOU’RE TRIGGER HAPPY WITH THAT SEND BUTTON

If you haven’t proofread your email at least once, you’re sending it too quickly. And we don’t just mean spellcheck. Ensure any links you have included are correct and work, and don’t forget to attach any documents you mentioned. Also, another great way to ensure you avoid sending an unfinished email (haven’t we all once pressed ‘send’ instead of ‘save’?) is to add the recipient in last. 

4. YOU’RE TOO ICEY

Just worked on a project with a new team and want to send a thank you email? Cold-emailing new companies hoping to land a job? One big mistake here is not making it personal enough. To avoid making it look like you copy and pasted the same email to four different people, personalize it a little by stating what exactly you liked or learned by working with a new team, or what it is about that specific company that interests you. Show that you did your research or were paying attention by making it personal and professional.

5. YOU LOVE THAT WHOLE ‘REPLY ALL’ OPTION

Chances are, you already feel bombarded with emails, so don’t add to it for others by pressing the dreaded “reply all” and spamming half of the office with deadlines and details that don’t concern them. If you still feel that you need to loop more people in than just the sender, simply use “cc” (carbon copy) or “bcc” (blind carbon copy) and send away.

Oh and, here’s a great trick: if someone intros you to someone else, reply to the email and say this: “Thanks for the intro, Abby! I’m moving you to bcc to save your inbox.” They’ll know you picked up the email thread, but it lets them off the hook for future messages.

-TM

What are some of the tricks you use when sending an email? Let us know below.

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