In today’s tough and changing business world, it is often our professionalism that separates us from the others who interact with our clients. That becomes even more important in the fast lane of business communication, which today is almost always done electronically.
You know the tools: e-mail, instant messaging and electronic faxing. That’s the good part. Here’s the statistics that highlight the bad part: We’re only conveying 30 percent of our message when we don’t have the luxury of also using body language and/or voice to reinforce that communication. It’s all the more important that we ensure we are getting our point across truthfully and accurately when we rely ONLY on the written word. Maintaining our professional approach is vital when relying on technology to carry the message. Here are some tips that can make you stand out as a true professional:
E-Mail – Care & Feeding
It takes a bit longer, but treat every e-mail with the care and concern you would give a letter of highest importance. The “art” may have gone out of letter writing with the ease of sending thoughts and words from the computer, but just because it is quick does not mean it is less important. Every e-mail you send is a written representation of you and your business professionalism. A well-written document is respected no matter what form it comes in, so let it represent you at your best.
- Don’t send anything in an e-mail that you would regret being seen by others not on your mail list. As quickly as you hit “send,” the receiver can hit “forward” and your message is in the “Inbox” of others.
- Be sure you use Spell and Grammar check, and actually look at what’s highlighted. Incorrect spellings and bad grammar do not reflect well on you.
- Can the recipient find your information quickly? It is frustrating to get a business e-mail without the person’s name, title, phone number, etc. Take the time to build a standard signature for everyone in your company and insist that people use it. Add your logo in for some color and recognition. In time, it becomes your company brand.
- While you can’t stop your e-mail from being forwarded to others, you can make people give it a second thought before they send it on. A confidentiality statement conveys the following message: Think about this before you hit “Forward.” Make sure you add it to your signature block. Here’s a standard sample to help you get started:
- Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any attachments or previous e-mail message(s) within it, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail or please notify us at
and destroy all copies of the original. Thank you.
- Salutation. Always use a salutation. It could be Dear Jane or as welcoming as a Good Morning! The point is don’t just start in on the letter; be courteous by starting your e-mail with the intended recipients name or some introduction.
- Blind copies. They’re okay and sometimes very important; just be sure those copied understand they should not disclose the confidence.
Exchange Server: How can it support you?
If it’s more than just you, be sure your business systems mirror your professionalism. At its basic level, Exchange Server is the tool that ties together your team’s Outlook and that brings you a whole new level of benefits: