News & Insight
September 2008

Your Career Path to Success: Using Email Wisely

Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S.

We are all inundated with emails. Our In-Boxes are perpetually full. If you rely on people responding quickly to your messages, please remember, we're not all swinging on a hammock waiting around for your internet-clogging MP3 audio file to grace our computer screens! Heed the following.

Keep it short.
We are inundated with information. So make your email fetching and as short as possible. Ideally, make your email pertain to one issue

Include a signature line.
Automatically end with pertinent data about you. Put your name, your phone number(s), your website, and a short description of what you do.

Use a descriptive subject header.
Avoid subject headers like, "Hi", "Memo", or "Volume 3, Edition 1". Make your reader want to open the email by being as detailed and personal as possible.

Postpone angry emails indefinitely.
Emails are permanent records that can be transferred by a simple click. All it takes is one person forwarding your diatribe to the company directory.

Confront in private, praise in public.

Attach documents thoughtfully.
Ask yourself, does this person really need to read all of this? Make sure your email does not get ignored altogether because of including too many appendages.

Copy others only when necessary.
Figure out what your organization's culture and policies are on this issue. While it's important to keep people in the loop, be careful about over zapping others with information they may not need.

Hide the email addresses if you do "Copy" others.
Put your name in the "from" and "to" boxes and put all your recipient's email addresses in the "bcc" box. Otherwise, your email becomes an invasion of email address privacy for all of the people you are writing.

Plus, people observe where they are placed in your lineup of email addresses if you don't hide the names. Inadvertently, the receiver of your email could get insulted depending on where their name appears on your list.

Stop sending jokes, chain letters, and drippy vignettes.
What you do personally is up to you. If you must, send these mind-numbing missives to your friends from your home computer.
While on the job, keep your emails focused on your job.

Karen Cortell Reisman is a WJM Faculty Member. For the past 15 years, she has been assisting senior executives in sharpening their speaking skills, preparing for new assignments, or developing an upcoming speech. She is the author of 2 books: The Naked Truth about Selling and The Naked Truth about Giving Great Speeches

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