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Tips for Taking Advantage of E-mail

In today’s connected business world, e-mail has become one of if not the preferred method of communication. E-mail offers quick delivery, fast response time and the ability to provide attachments and information in an efficient manner. Of course, e-mail is sometimes overused when a phone call or a visit should really be made. In order to take use e-mail to your advantage, here are Nine Tips for E-mail Success:

Don’t Click When You Can Call – I just mentioned this a second ago and I’ll mention it again because it’s important. There are times when it makes sense to e-mail your client some information or new material. There are other times when it makes the most sense to call your or make a personal visit. “Hello” messages are best delivered in person. Before sending an e-mail, ask yourself if the best means to communicate your message is via e-mail, on the phone or in person.

Beware the Crowded E-Mail – Planning on copying your coworkers on a message?  Think about whether they really need to be included in the delivery list.  The same goes for replies to mailing lists.  90% of the time, it doesn’t make sense to hit “Reply to All.”  Reduce mailbox clutter – copy only those people who need to be copied on a message.

Check Your E-Mail Often – Since so many people rely on e-mail as much, if not more than they do their telephone, it is important to check your e-mail often. Keep your e-mail client running so you can stay on top of messages. You can improve response times and prevent overflowing inboxes.

Leave Your Calling Card – Almost every e-mail client will allow you to set up a signature for all outgoing or replied messages.  Set up your signature so to include your name, company, phone number and e-mail address.  Some people like to add a company web page or slogan.  Just make sure you have enough contact information sothat your customers can reach you.

Proof Your Work – There’s no reason to not spell check your messages.  Most e-mail clients allow you to automatically check messages before they are sent out.  Make sure that messages are grammatically correct and that words are spelled properly.  What you write reflects upon your level of professionalism.

Don’t Throw Out Rules on Appearance – Some people send e-mails without using capital letters or punctuation. Others use ALL CAPS (yelling, in netiquette!?).  A few even use cutesy abbreviations like gr8 and LOL with customers.  Those abbreviations are best left for your teenagers to use in chat rooms.  When composing messages,mind your Ps and Qs.

Clean Up Your Inbox – I like to have a clean inbox with no more than a page full of old messages or messages to be answered.  Reduce mailbox clutter by storing important messages in archive folders and deleting all other e-mails.

Think Before You Write – Be careful what you write.  It can end up accidentally forwarded to the wrong hands or, worse yet, in the right hands.  Angry?  Take some old advice… write the client a letter (in Word, not via e-mail), read it, then delete it.  Don’t send anything when you’re angry.  It can haunt you or even get you fired!

Use Attachments Wisely – When using attachments, send only what is necessary and avoid sending large files. This is particularly the case for unexpected e-mails. Send what is essential and, if planning to send a large file (like a .ppt file), make sure your client is aware of what is coming.

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