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Mobile Devices vs. Email Business Etiquette

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Have mobile devices struck one more blow to email business etiquette? Do you know that smart phones and tablets make up more than half of all mobile devices and that 90 percent of those with these latest devices use them to check their email before checking their computers? At least that is what Dave Tedlock of NetOutcomes reports. Based on personal experience, I don’t doubt him for a second.

Everywhere you go, you see people on their mobile device, whatever type it is, but something has changed. They are no longer using them for live conversation. This is obvious because their lips aren’t moving and they are operating the device with their thumbs.  What effect has this had on email etiquette? For one thing it has caused a rise of ATS or “Alone Together Syndrome.” ( Look for more about ATS in a future article.)

You know what I mean. You go out to eat as I did yesterday and observe two or more people seated at the same table, totally unaware of each other while they run their thumbs over the minuscule keyboards on their mobile device. You have to wonder why they decided to go out together when they show no interest in each other.

It happens everywhere, not just restaurants. You see this behavior at meetings, conferences, concerts, weddings and even funerals. There is currently a TV ad featuring a man checking his email during a wedding and  getting so excited at the message he just received  that he blurts out, “I do” while the couple is making their vows. It is definitely a sign of the times.

If you are going to check and respond to email whenever and wherever you are, be sure that your email is as professional as if you were sitting in front of your desktop or laptop writing it.. Too many business people send email from their mobile device the same way that they would text.

In creating tips that will help you come across as a polished professional, whether you are sitting at your desk sending email or waiting in your doctor’s office, I realized that one of the most important considerations is having a complete and consistent email signature.

For more on this topic, I interviewed technology expert, Jerry Gitchel to get his advice about what to consider when setting up a Mobile Device Email Signature. Here is what Jerry had to say to the many business pros who are migrating their primary email tasks from desktop or notebook computers to mobile devices. “Since the startup configuration is often handled by telecom techs or IT staff, an important email account configuration step is missing. The missing step is the setup of a personalized email signature. It contains the important contact information recipients use to connect by phone.”

He went on to say that “the result is individual clients receiving multiple branding and contact info from each mobile device. It’s not the device that matters, it’s the sender. The elements of contact info, logos and links should match across all phones, tablets and computers. The only difference to be considered is layout. Using a larger font size to create a smartphone sig is just good sense.”

Jerry’s Tips

– Develop a single sig that includes everything you want to see across all platforms. Use this master template to setup an email sig for each device.

– Keep a list handy of all the devices and platforms (web-based email) to make sure updated information is fully distributed.

– Put your customer hat on and experience your email sig on different devices and displays.”

I added these tips for consideration when sending email in this multiple device world:

The rules of  business etiquette apply to any and all devices that send and receive email. As usual we get the technology before we get the rules for how to use it professionally and before we consider how to follow proper business etiquette.

Typos are not acceptable even if you are using an iPhone or an iPad. Proof your message and be sure every word is spelled correctly.

Abbreviations and acronyms should not be used when you are responding to business email.  It feels like texting, but it is not.Use acronyms only if you are certain that the recipient is familiar with them as well.

Keep your subject line short and to the point. The person to whom you are writing may be reading it on one of the latest mobile devices.

Keep your message brief.  If others are receiving your email on a smart phone or other device, they won’t be happy about a lengthy message.

Most importantly, consider where you are and with whom before checking your email. Few messages are so important that they can’t wait while you engage with your lunch partner or with your client and colleague during a meeting. It is an insult when you place more value on your email than the people around you and the business at hand.

Just because the majority of people are now using mobile devices for their business communication does not mean that they can ignore the rules of email business etiquette.

What is your thoughts about sending email from mobile devices? What other rules woud you add?

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Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.