It pays to be polite. We’ve discussed good phone etiquette, so let’s also talk about a few good rules for email etiquette.
It’s very normal to meet people over email. When you meet someone over email, provide a brief introduction to yourself. Your name, a point of connection (your company’s name, your boss’s name, your mutual connection, etc.), and what you do are probably sufficient. If you expect this to be a long working relationship, you might consider scheduling a call.
Respect Other People’s Personal Information
Be careful about sending a third party’s personal information, like phone number, address, or other private information. When asked for the contact information for a colleague, you can forward the request on to your colleague and let them decide what to do.
Respond Within 48 Hours
Your response doesn’t have to be comprehensive. Something as simple as, “Hi Sarah, just letting you that I’ve seen this. I’ll send along the report when it’s finished, which will be Friday.” Don’t wait until Friday. Let Sarah know that you’ve seen her request right away and when she can expect a fuller response.
Use ‘No Reply Necessary’
If you want to avoid a bunch of one-word replies like “ok” and “thanks”, put No Reply Necessary at the end of your email subject or in the body of the email itself.
Use Full Words & Complete Sentences
A business email shouldn’t contain things like “gr8” or “r u free 2 talk”. Sentence fragments should also be avoided. Write full and complete sentences when you email. An email isn’t exactly as formal as a letter, but it’s still closer to a letter than a text message.
Avoid Exclamation Marks, Ellipses, Emoticons & Other Informal Punctuation
You rarely have to exclaim anything in an email. Also, using an exclamation mark on something boring to make it seem exciting doesn’t work. Don’t write “Happy Monday!”
Don’t use ellipses in email as you’re not trailing off. You’re writing, not speaking. Save the ellipses for your on-spec Simpsons script.
Emoticons don’t really have a place in business communication, aside from the occasional smiley face used with people you email frequently or see day to day.
Avoid Slang, Beware of Jargon
Slang like LOL, YMMV, and AFAIK should be avoided in email. Aside from looking unprofessional, remember than not everyone keeps up with slang.
Jargon requires a more thoughtful approach. All businesses and professions have their own jargon, so it’s normal to include in an email. However, be aware of when a person included in the email chain might not know what you’re talking about. For example, if you’re an engineer and are emailing three other engineers and a person from accounting, jargon like “kinetic disassembly” and “field verify” might not be understood.
If you don’t wish to avoid jargon in that situation, you can privately email the accounting person. Say something like, “We get a bit carried away with some of the jargon we use and sometimes forget that not everyone follows; I’m happy to explain any terms you’re unfamiliar with.”
Don’t Abuse Reply All
Hitting Reply All on a ten person email thread when you really only have to speak to one or two people is like calling a ten person meeting when one or two others are the only ones who need to be there. It wastes other people’s time and floods their inboxes.
If you’re emailing a large group of people who don’t know each other, use BCC. Many of those people won’t want their email address leaked to your whole address book. Also, BCC prevents one person in the threat from hitting Reply All and causing an email flood.