Business emails: Five simple rules
The proliferation of mobile phones and ever-changing rules and etiquette around their use got me thinking about another modern day bugbear of mine – the incorrect use of business emails.
Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to use business emails. I am qualified to address this important business
matter as I could easily spend all my waking hours emailing in this have-laptop-will-travel world.
I have shared my email wisdom a number of times late on a Friday night and I thought it was about time that you, my
fellow soloists, got to know the real rules of effective electronic communication.
Before hitting send, ask “Do I know you?”
I was once surprised upon receiving a series of business emails from a person I knew of from networking events but
who I’d never actually met. I knew I hadn’t signed up for her mailing list and was miffed that I’d been
sent unsolicited email.
The situation came back to bite me a few years later when after attending a business-building workshop where email
addresses were distributed, I emailed everyone about a Business Action
Group I was starting. I received a brusque “Who are you and how did you get my email?” Now, I was a
bit miffed that this person had forgotten meeting scintillating me, but I was also incredulous that any business
owner would respond this way.
Say thank you
When someone emails you with an article, a lead or a client, there is only one right thing to do: say thank you. Sure
you may find the article dull, the lead totally not your market and the client to be someone she didn’t want to
work with, but this person went out of her way for you. If you’re lucky you’ll be surrounded by people who
send you stuff and don’t even expect anything in return. I’ve heard that some business people are quite
decent human beings. It all starts with thank you. That is, unless they’ve sent you the next item…
"Repeat after me: I will never send a PowerPoint presentation as an attachment."
Just say no to FW
Repeat after me: I will never send a PowerPoint presentation as an attachment. Especially if it includes pictures of
sunsets and whale music. And while we’re at it, you may as well try the following mantra: Forwarding chain emails
within 15 minutes of receiving will not grant me all my wishes nor save the world.
Respond, respond, respond
How many times have you made an email enquiry to a web-based company and not received a reply? This one can be a
little tricky because the rules for business and the rules of social email part ways here. With friends and family
it’s fine to check your email every week or so and get back to them when you feel like it because they love you.
Not responding to business emails within 24 hours is telling them that they don’t matter.
A sales letter is spam
At the risk of offending internet marketers, the sales letter has no place in the modern soloist’s toolkit.
There, I’ve said it. Especially when it’s masked as a personally addressed I’ve got a deal for you
or Shhhhh, Secret Offer . I’m not going to buy because it’s cheesy and desperate. Someone had to tell
So there you have it. The five simple rules of correct email use. While I might seem to have a vendetta for internet
marketers, the reason these Big Five rile me is because I’ve done them all. Sometimes repeatedly. I seriously
believed “this is what you do in business”. All I did do, though, was scorch delicate relationships very
In reality, there really is only one rule: Business relationships are built on genuine conversations that can happen
in-person or by email, phone, text message, chat, or even that old fangled post.
What about you? What are your business email bugbears?
If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to my email.