Business Etiquette: 7 Ways to Make the Most of a Professional Email

An email has to make an immediate impact to stand out among the dozens (or even hundreds) of messages a busy executive is bombarded with each day. When executed properly, an incoming email can open the door to a new relationship or strengthen an existing association. These seven tips will help you make the most of your daily emails:

  1. Grab the recipient with the subject line. Your word choice in the subject line may determine whether your message gets opened or deleted, so keep it short and to the point. "Thinking of you" or "Hello" will get your email sent to the junk file, as opposed to "Request for follow-up to today's meeting."

  • Address the person by name. Always double-check spelling (when in doubt, call or do a quick search) before you send. A misspelled name guarantees your email will be deleted immediately. You are trying to establish a personal connection, so using their name is a must. Avoid generic greetings that could be used for anyone, and at all costs avoid "To Whom It May Concern."
  • Explain your connection. You might be reaching out to a new contact and want to introduce yourself and your company. Maybe you met them briefly at a networking event and would like to hear more about their business. Perhaps you saw them in the news recently or followed their blog for a few years. If a mutual acquaintance referred you, mention that person by name. In a few words, establish who you are and the shared connection. When appropriate, mention a specific impression the recipient made on you.
  • Keep it conversational. A warm, friendly tone is critical. Make your email easy to read in simple language instead of trying to dazzle them with technical terms or jargon. Present yourself professionally, with correct spelling, punctuation, and no emoticons.
  • Keep it short. Even people you already know will wince at the sight of an endless stream of paragraphs. Show the receiver you respect their time enough to keep it concise and to the point.
  • Be specific. Don't make the recipient wonder what you want. If you are reaching out simply to establish a connection and no call to action is necessary, thank them for their insights on their speech or in their most recent news article. This is a good way to leave the door open for future contact. If you want to take it a step further, be exact; "Can I arrange a 15 minute phone conversation or meet for coffee to discuss some of my ideas?" Asking them for the opportunity to "pick their brain" is vague and self-serving. Don't expect an enthusiastic response.
  • Follow up. Your email is one among countless others that will land in their inbox on a particular day. If you have included a specific request and don't hear back within a week, follow up with a quick note reminding them of your previous message. With the right approach, emails can get you noticed, generate a response, and lead to a face-to-face meeting. If your offer for coffee or lunch is accepted, be sure to show up with relevant questions - and pick up the check. Express your gratitude for their time and stay in touch with another well thought out email in the near future.
  • For more of Diane's email etiquette tips read, Business Email Etiquette: Five Email Mistakes You May Be Making On-the-Go. Visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest, and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.

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