Tag Archives: e-mail

Choosing Your Most Effective Email Closing

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You’ve worked hard crafting your email so that your message is clear, your tone is correct, your format is inviting, and you have eliminated all errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now it’s time to decide on an email closing, and you’re stuck. All else being perfect, the way you sign off requires more than a little thought and finesse. It may only be a word or a phrase, but it needs to be well-chosen.

If you are struggling to find the most effective email closing, you are far from alone. Extensive research on this topic—and yes, I did the research—revealed that opinions on this topic are all over the map. In one article three email etiquette experts were asked their stance on a long list of email closings. The end result turned up little agreement among the three. No wonder you find this subject challenging.

Before you decide how to sign-off, you should consider your relationship to the recipient and the context of the email. What works for a good friend or close colleague most likely will not work for a business contact. What is appropriate for an initial email may come across as too formal as your connection develops.

Here are my suggestions on choosing your most effective email closing.

    1. Always use one. Not signing off is like walking out the door without saying good-bye. Too abrupt.
    2. Match your email closing to your salutation. This column devoted time some months ago to using effective and appropriate email salutations. A formal salutation requires a formal closing. An informal salutation should be followed by an informal closing.
    3. Consider using a closing statement in lieu of a closing word or two. Email tends to be more relaxed so once you have established a relationship with the recipient, you might end your email with something like, “Have a nice day”, “See you on Friday” or “Enjoy your vacation”.
    4. Be respectful but avoid “Respectfully/Respectfully yours”. According to Business Insider those closings are too formal and are to be reserved for government officials and clergy.
    5. Proceed gingerly when expressing thanks. Both “Thanks” and “Thank you” get high marks when used in the right circumstances. The Boomerang study found emails that convey appreciation receive the highest response rate. However, there are some people who think that writing “Thank you in advance” comes across as demanding and should be used with caution.
    6. Keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence. Avoid wishing someone a blessed day.
    7. Following your closing, let people know how you want to be addressed. If you want to be addressed by your first name, use only that in closing. If you prefer to keep things formal, sign off with your first and last name. If you are “Bill” and not “William”, now’s your chance to let that be known.

As always the goal is to be courteous, kind and respectful. Let your good sense and good judgment be your guide.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Know Your Client’s Preferences

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Imagine this: you’ve worked for hours putting together the proposal that your prospective client requested and are ready to send it. You choose what you believe to be the most efficient way to communicate—you e-mail the document. You expect that your prospect is checking e-mail regularly and will be contacting you within a few hours to seal the deal.  You have a mental picture of yourself signing the contract and depositing a nice check into your account.

What you don’t know is that your prospect doesn’t check e-mail frequently.  You failed to find out what form of communication this person prefers and how he wanted to receive the document.  Sadly for you, your competitor is on the ball and knows.  By the time your e-mail proposal is opened and read, the deal is done, but not with you.

Maybe you called the prospect, who was out of the office at the time, so you left the information on voice mail and waited all day for a response.  As it turns out, he only checks voice mail once at the end of every day and returns his calls in the morning. Again, your competition knew this and sent an email instead.

We are absolutely overwhelmed with ways to transmit information. Current studies indicate that e-mail is the business communication tool of choice. However, many people still prefer the telephone, the office staple since Alexander Graham Bell first spoke to Mr. Watson from another room.  The phone is no longer permanently attached to the wall nor does it reside on a desk all day. Now that phones are mobile, people carry their phones with them. Some people even wear them like an accessory.

Phones are also “smart” now so they can do everything that you used to have a landline, a computer and a fax machine for. Their latest trick is texting. Skip email. Forget calling and just send a cryptic text message. There is an entire segment of our population that does not know any other way to communicate than to text. After all, it is so convenient. You can text anytime, anywhere to almost anybody. The business person who doesn’t text is considered to be something akin to the dinosaur.

We all have our preferred means of communication.  If you want to be successful, grow your business and develop good client relationships, find out how your clients want to communicate.  Just because you think that e-mail is the most efficient tool doesn’t mean that your clients and prospects like to sit in front of a computer all day watching messages pour in. Some may prefer to use the phone so they can discuss issues and gauge reactions – something that is hard to do with e-mail.  Others may like getting your proposal in person and would prefer a face-to-face meeting in the office or over a meal. And don’t forget that group of people who want it quick and dirty so they text all day.

Respecting your client’s preferences is not just a courtesy, it’s good business.  It’s not about you; it’s about your client. How can you tell which way your client prefers to communicate? Ask. It’s as simple as that.

If you’ve emerged from the cave and think that you are now using every means available to stay in touch with and in front of your clients and prospects, there is a next level—that of social networking. I am not going to be your expert on this topic today, but I can tell you who is. Check out my friend Jerry Gitchel’s latest blog on Make Technology Work to learn how to be a savvy social networker.

Here’s to made-to-order communication!

professional speaker

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.

Get Ready to Clean Out Your Inbox

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It is that time of the year again, and no, I am not talking about the holiday season.  We just did that. Now we need to move on, get back to work and  on track for 2012.  As we think about being more productive and profitable this year, what better way to begin than by cleaning out your inbox. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see to the bottom of mine. No matter how hard I try, I never manage to clean it out completely.  I get just so far and then I am slammed with another couple dozen emails and off I go again.

An important message that I bring to those who attend my presentations or who read my articles on email etiquette in the business world is that you need to respond to email in a timely fashion.  You need to be in control of what comes in and what goes out of your mailbox. You need to understand that your business email is an extension of your professional  image.

There is hope and it is right around the corner. Two weeks from now, January 23-27, we recognize “Clean Out Your Inbox Week.”  How timely is that, especially if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to take control of your email. The person behind this event is my good friend Marsha Egan, the author of Inbox/Detox. Five years ago Marsha realized that almost everyone in the workplace is suffering from email overload and that productivity is affected by our email addiction so she started something akin to the Betty Ford Clinic for Email Addicts.

While I still haven’t been 100% successful in my efforts to clean out my inbox, each year when I go back into treatment, I get  better.  Who knows, this may be the year I succeed.

professional speaker

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.

March is National Email Month. How is Your Email Etiquette?

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When email first came on the scene, we had no rules for using it correctly and effectively.  As usual, the technology preceded the rules of behavior.

Your email is as much a part of your professional image as:

  1. the clothes you wear
  2. the greeting on your voice mail
  3. the handshake you offer
  4. the way you present your business card

If you want to impress on every front and build positive business relationships, steer clear of these email mistakes.

  1. Omitting the subject line.  Given the huge volume of email that everyone receives, the subject header is essential if you want your message read.
  2. Not making your subject line meaningful. Your header should be pertinent to your message, not just “Hi” or “Hello.”  The recipient is going to decide the order in which to read email based on who sent it and what it is about.  Your email will have lots of competition.
  3. Not using a greeting and personalizing your message  Failure to put in the person’s name and give a greeting, which can range from “Dear,” Hi,” or “Hello,” can make you and your email seem cold and detached.
  4. Not accounting for tone. When you communicate with another person face to face, 93% of the message is non-verbal.  Email has no body language.  The reader cannot see your face or hear your tone of voice so chose your words carefully.
  5. Writing the great American novel.  Keep your message short. Use only a few paragraphs, a few sentences per paragraph and lots of white space.
  6. Thinking that no one else will ever see your email.  Once it has left your mailbox, you have no idea where your email will end up.  Don’t send anything that you couldn’t stand to see on a billboard on your way to work the next day.
  7. Expecting an instant response. Not everyone is sitting in front of the computer with email turned on.  If  you need a quick response, pick up the phone.
  8. Completing the “To” line first. The emial address of the person to whom you are writing is the last piece of information you should enter. If you enter the recipient’s address first, a mere slip of the finger can send a message before its time.
  9. Using email when you ought to pick up the phone.

Email makes everything easier and faster including making a powerful business impression and establishing positive professional relationships. The businessperson who uses the technology effectively and appropriately will see the results of that effort reflected in the bottom line.

professional speaker

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.

It’s Time to Clean Out of Your Inbox

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Did you know that this week is National Clean Out Your Inbox Week?  If you missed that piece of news, it is not too late to un-clutter your inbox.  Marsha Egan, the author of Inbox Detox, is the founder of this event and has a wealth of information to share with you to help you either organize your email or toss it out.

While you’re at it, consider un-cluttering your messages.  Email is meant to be brief and to the point.  Most of us skim our email so if yours is lengthy and looks as if you copied the front page of the Wall Street Journal, very few people will read it.  Go back over your messages and chances are you can cut them in half and still make your point.

Now go clean out your inbox.  You have no idea how much better you will feel.

professional speaker

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.

Replying to All

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If it’s good to reply, isn’t it better to reply to all? No, it’s not.  You should use the “Reply to All” function only if everyone on the original address list needs to know.  With everyone buried in e-mail on a daily basis, no one appreciates receiving unnecessary messages.

How many times have you been part of a group that received notice of a meeting or event via e-mail asking you to reply if you can attend?  The next thing you know, you are receiving messages from everyone on the list.  You are afraid not to read all those e-mails in case they contain some important information that involves you.  99% of the time they don’t.

Stop and think before you reply to all.  In most cases, only the sender needs to know.

professional speaker

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.

Inbox Overload

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Are you buried in your inbox? Are you inundated with messages every time you check your e-mail? If you can answer “no” to those questions, you are in a class by yourself. Most of us receive more e-mail in a day than we can reasonably handle. Instead of using precious time building our business and developing our client relationships, we are busy culling through e-mail to find the meaningful messages and deleting the rest.

There is little you can do to control the number of messages you receive, but you can manage the e-mail that you send out. If enough of us take the time to consider “to send or not to send,” we could see e-mail numbers drop.

Here are a few ways to cut back on unnecessary e-mail.

1. Consider who needs to receive your message and limit the recipients. If you are working on a project with a colleague, does the entire office need to be informed of your every move? Some people copy everyone in the workplace just to be on the safe side. (There is another expression used to explain this practice, but since it is not polite, I’ll leave it to your imagination.) Just copy those who need to know.

2. Think before you hit “reply to all.” When you receive notice of a meeting and are asked to reply, your response only needs to go to the person who sent the message. I recently received an invitation to an event and the sender was savvy enough to say, “Please send your response to me. Do not reply to all.”   More of us should remind our recipients not to reply to all.

3. When your e-mail message begins to look like the great American novel, stop. The time has come to pick up the phone or call a meeting. The key to email is to be brief and to the point. It is not meant for discussion.

4. No matter how funny that joke or how bizarre that video that someone sent you, spare your business friends and colleagues unless they have given you permission to pass along such trivia.

Limiting the number of messages you send and being thoughtful regarding to whom you send them is just another way of showing courtesy and respect for others.

If you have any suggestions for ways to reduce the massive amount of e-mail that goes out every day, please share them with me. With your permission, I will add them to my list and pass them on.

Here’s to more manageable inboxes!

professional speaker

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.

E-mail – Be Brief, But Not Abrupt

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How many e-mail messages do you receive that are not personalized in any way? The sender goes straight to the message without ever acknowledging you by name? The communication ends just as abruptly without a signature. The assumption, of course, is that your inbox will reveal the sender’s name

While e-mail is meant to brief and to the point, it is not intended to be impersonal. E-mail has become the cold call of today’s business world. Would you make a cold call without a greeting or an introduction? Would you make a cold call without attempting to establish a relationship? The answer of
course is “no.” So why would anyone send e-mail without a personal touch?

I often receive messages through my website. I never cease to be amazed at how many people fail to address me by name. They ask a question or request information and proceed to close without leaving their name, contact information or a kind word.

Business is built on relationships and first impressions. If you want to grow your business using the Internet, keep in mind that your e-mail messages still require courtesy and cordiality.

Begin by using the person’s name, add warmth to your message and close with your name and contact information.

A businessman recently cited an e-mail incident that turned him off and cost the other person a significant piece of business. The sender was requesting information and suggesting future business opportunities with the recipient. The reply that came back to him had a subject line that read,
“Attached.” That was it! There was no greeting, no message, no words of appreciation, no explanation of the attachment and no closing.

I leave it to you to decide if the individual who requested the information opened the attachment or if he engaged in any follow-up.

Here is one example of how the reply should have been composed:

***************************************************************

Dear Mr. Chase,

Thank you for your interest in my programs. I have attached the information you requested. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by phone at 843-224-4233 or by e-mail at ssmith@bigbusiness.com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest regards,

Sam Smith
Big Business Inc.

***************************************************************

Many of us have reached a point where we will do anything to save time; but if we lose business in the process, are those few extra minutes we gain worth the price we pay?