Friday, September 21, 2007

E-mail Etiquette

This week my inbox has been bombarded by little pop-ups that say something along the lines of "So and so would like to know when you read her e-mail, would you like to send a read receipt?" And I would select "no" and grumble about people who need to know exactly when I open up and read their e-mail. Shall I send a "wipe notice" too, as in, when I get done using the restroom facilities....

OK, yes, I'm venting.

As a freelancer, I usually find myself handling a large amount of my communication online, specifically e-mail. It is how I send queries, interview requests, invoices and even the finished article.

And while I realize not everyone will be annoyed by the same things I get annoyed about, I do think there are some recognizable standards. I've tried to compile a few:

1. Your e-mail address should be YOUR e-mail address. Don't send e-mail from an account that lists your name along with your husband's name. If you don't know what your e-mail says in the from line, send yourself an e-mail to find out. It should say your first and last name.

2. Your e-mail address should be professional. This is not the time to use your "momoffour" moniker. Even when you select what you think is a professional e-mail, ask someone else to look at it. I was once told my slslsherwood made people think of "slasher."

3. Do not send attachments that aren't expected.

4. Do not request read receipts the first time you send an e-mail. Save this feature for the time when you are sending a requested item a second time and there has been a demonstrated problem.

5. Use complete sentences and expected conventions for business letters.

6. Ask yourself if your requests are reasonable? Are you asking the person to "respond immediately" and sending it out at 4:57 p.m.?

7. Don't follow-up immediately. Just because e-mail lets your communication land in another person's box immediately, don't expect an immediate response. Wait at least a week, preferably two, before following up on an e-query.

8. Realize that not everyone has your standards for e-mail. Be aware that some people might not appreciate the cute photo or background that you like to use. For business e-mail, stick to plain text.

9. Do not send jokes, hoaxes, or warnings to people just because you have their e-mail address.

10. Pay attention to that TO line before you hit send. Some e-mail programs fill in addresses automatically, so make sure you are sending your e-mail to who you intended it to go to.

11. Make the subject line clear and concise. If I am sending a query, I write "Query: Great Article Title" in the subject line with the text "great article title" being replaced for a catchy title of my current proposal.

12. If you send out your e-mail query to more than one place, do not include every single address in your To: line. Learn how to use CC and BCC. Be careful using CC and BCC.

What tips do you have for e-mail communication?


Carolyn Erickson said...

These tips are great, Linda.

My only tip is when you send an email query, close the laptop and walk away! :)

Oh, one more tip: When you send an email, think twice or three times about what you write. Your email might reach someone other than the intended recipient - either because of an incorrect address or because that person forwarded it to someone else.

It can happen.


Judith said...

Great post, Linda!! I love that folks are finally talking about the topic of E-mail Etiquette! I have an entire site filled with tips, a Blog and free E-mail Etiquette services so everyone can learn and thrive online!

Good luck with that book contract -- have you guys ever thought of self-publishing? Way easy and a great way to get the attention of publishers! ;-)

Take care ~

Serenity Now! said...

I try to re-read my important emails.

I've caught the public/pubic error a few times... lol

Oh, and I try not to use net-speak or whatever it's called these days: LOL, LMAO...

I save that for all my buddies!

Dejah said...

Yeah, but Linda, I thought it was KEWL that it looked like "slasher."

Not as bad as Lin Dasherwood.