Every email you send, you spend precious capital. Time is a valuable resource, and you can waste people’s time if your communications are not worthwhile or incomplete. Send a few unhelpful emails, and you could lose the person forever.
To ensure that people will respond to or act upon your email, be thorough and accurate. Each email communication is your opportunity to advocate for yourself and get closer to your goals. Make every touch point count. Review this nine-item checklist before you send an email:
1. Consider what else is going on with the recipient.
Did you learn that the person you are emailing recently won an award or did you enjoy hearing them speak at a conference? Briefly congratulate the person or show appreciation for their work.
Your email should be focused, but that does not mean losing the opportunity to compliment the recipient. Praise is always appreciated and a great way to put the recipient in the right frame of mind.
2. Think about what else is going on with you.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to share what is new in your life. Did you recently switch jobs or write an article that might be of interest to the recipient? Share updates. The more people know about you, the easier it will be for people to think of you when they come across interesting opportunities.
3. Be aware of what is currently going on in the world.
If it is the holiday season, say “Happy Holidays.” If you heard on the news of an incident happening in their geographic region, let the person know you are thinking of them. This simple gesture can create an emotional connection and bridge the electronic distance between the sender and the recipient.
4. Answer the five “Ws.”
Don’t keep the email recipient guessing. Answer the five “Ws”: who, what, when, where and why. For any event or situation, give some context so the person can understand what you are trying to communicate. Sufficient information allows for better engagement and cuts down on the amount of back and forth, which busy people appreciate.
5. Don’t start with “I.”
Loews Hotels chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch advises to not start sentences with the word “I.” It helps you to “frame your point in the context of the other person,” not yourself. When you start with the word “I,” it “sends a message that you are more important than the person that you’re communicating with,” said Tisch. Although it sounds counterintuitive, showing that you are thinking about them and not about yourself will make the recipient more inclined to listen and support you.
6. Include the attachment.
If you want to share a document as an attachment, check that the document is attached. It takes a second to check and saves you from having to send another email. And the more emails you send, the less time the recipient will spend on each email.
7. Question the accuracy of the content.
Don’t say things that are false. Do not exaggerate. Make sure what you say is an accurate reflection of the situation. Don’t run the risk of the person losing confidence in you.
8. Review for tone.
One of the greatest dangers of email is the recipient misunderstanding the sender’s intent. Nothing beats in-person communication. To avoid things getting lost in translation, reread your words for tone.
Are you using the word “you” too much such that the person could interpret that you are ordering them around? Is your e-mail too short, and the person might think you are curt with them? Take the opportunity to minimize the possibility of your words being taken the wrong way. Maintain the recipient’s trust in you.
9. Spell check.
You are human. You will make typos. Some recipients see the typos, others don’t. Regardless, misspellings suggest carelessness and how much you value the recipient. It shows how much time and effort you put into the communication. Enable spellcheck and proofread to show that your attention is on the recipient. Above all, don’t include the phrase “please excuse typos” as that signals to the recipient that you are too busy for them.
Your emails are a reflection of you. Every email is an opportunity for the receiver to decide whether the sender is a valuable resource and, in turn, worth their time. If you want to be worthy of other people’s time and people to look forward to hearing from you, follow this guide to consistently compose effective emails.
Avery BlankSenior Contributor