Everything you do online effects your reputation. And that means not only things you post on social media or any blogs you write, but also your email correspondence. You never know where an email trail may take something you’ve written, so you need to always keep this in mind. Emails are never really private.
You need to always put your most professional face forward, stay away from the classic email mistakes that can hurt you, and think before you click that send key. Here are some of the biggies – the most common, but avoidable, mistakes.
1. Being Unprofessional
Just because you didn’t send your email to someone, it doesn’t mean they won’t see it. Remember, that “forward” button only takes one click.
Whether it’s unprofessional about you or someone else, don’t send it. Don’t bash a coworker, spread gossip, or put blame on someone else. For that matter, don’t go into detail about your date the other night or what you’ll do with your spouse when you get home. Go by the golden rule of don’t say anything you wouldn’t want getting into the wrong hands. Keep your professional emails professional.
2. Hitting “Reply All”
Everyone gets way too much email as it is. Unless it is necessary or requested, don’t use “reply all.” People send emails to multiple recipients as a time saver, but not everyone needs to know (or cares about) your answer. Send the response to the sender. Remember how much it bugs you when you keep getting irrelevant reply-alls.
Don’t be guilty of this one, or people will begin to delete even your relevant emails.
3. Forgetting Attachments (or Other Relevant Material)
If you are referring to an attachment, include it. If you are requesting a meeting, suggest some dates. If you want a phone call, send your phone number. It’s bothersome to have to retrace an email to get information, or to have to resend to ask you where the attachment or other information is. Sure, we all forget now and then, but remember this is your job – do it the right way.
If you do realize you’ve forgotten as soon as you hit that “send” key, just go ahead and send it again immediately. It’s better that you catch your own mistake than someone else, and it will save your recipients the trouble of asking you again.
Say what you need and keep it at that. A back-story or over abundance of details is usually unnecessary in business emails. Keep it to the essentials. As long as you are keeping it succinct, your information will get across. Remember to separate your text with paragraphs, too. It’s less likely that important information will be overlooked if you use paragraphs.
5. Using Text Talk
Don’t write an email like a teenager texting. Spell your words out and use complete sentences; write like a professional. If you have a real job, you shouldn’t write like a teenager; skip the “u” and spell the word out. In fact, even if you are texting with your colleagues, write like an adult.
It’s easy to slip into the ease and comfort of email. It’s easy to send before checking over it. But don’t. Keep your emails professional, or you could end up hurting your professional reputation. In our electronic world, things always end up in hands we never expected them to and with eyes seeing them that weren’t intended to see. If you keep your work professional, clean, and on topic, you should have no problem.
Heather Legg writes about topics including keeping a clean online reputation, Gary Crittenden, and staying positive in a busy world.