If you run a business, work in sales, or hold pretty much any position in the professional world, email etiquette is an important part of your internal communication that should not be overlooked.
Your email communication could have a tremendous effect on your brand as well as your sales efforts.
In my experience, some people seem to approach email with the idea that, “Anything worth doing… is worth over-doing.” As evidence, I give you the infamous, often thoughtless, Reply All.
Don’t get me wrong… there are times when hitting Reply All is the only way to go. For example, it makes sense to Reply All when you are dealing with a rapidly evolving or urgent matter, and every name on the header belongs to someone who will contribute to or be affected by the eventual outcome. But the over-use of Reply All happens much more frequently than its under-use.
So here are five simple rules that would solve much of the resulting email congestion and/or blunders:
If a conversation began as a relevant, committee-wide issue, but then evolved into a more specific conversation between two or three stakeholders, it makes no sense to cc: everyone on the original list. Pronounce to the group that their input has been appreciated, and that two (or a few) of you are going to take it from here.
Don’t use Reply All as a way to simply CYA. In other words, if something goes wrong with a project or process two months from now, it is feeble to use the defense that, “I saw this coming, I copied you (and a thousand other people) in an email string last summer.” Don’t be the person who uses Reply All as a defensive move against the prospect of future blame. Be the person who uses it to prevent a major problem.
Birthday greetings and other celebratory notes are wonderful, and add a personal touch to the professional workplace. But here at the Center for Sales Strategy, we no longer Reply All to pile-on with additional, individual greetings. Each of us either adds to the original message and forwards it to only the birthday boy or girl… or we craft a new, personal note from scratch. (This isn’t Facebook… it’s email!)
If you’re going to use Reply All or send a mass email to your co-workers or clients, don’t assume everyone knows why they’re on the mailing list. It’s a good idea to introduce the note with, “Here’s why I’m including each of you on this message…”
Before you ever hit Reply All, ask yourself whether anything in your messages might be considered sensitive or proprietary, and whether everyone on the list understands that status or should be included in the confidential aspect of the conversation. It takes only two clicks for an item to go from “internal information” to “published in the public domain.”
Nothing clutters-up the collective In Box of an organization faster than the over-use of the Reply All function in email. And nothing could annoy a client more than too many unnecessary emails. So, do your colleagues and clients a favor… and make sure your use of email, and the Reply All tool, is measured and appropriate.
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Mike Anderson is VP of Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy