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Step By Step Guide to Improving Your Email Skills

The way we do business has been ever-changing over the last decade or so, and email correspondence has taken the place of "snail mail", as well as the need for a fax machine.

Let me help you test yourself, and give you five important bits of advice when it comes to sending email, forwarding emails, and replying to emails, in the most courteous and professional way.

You've Got Mail

In every email there are basically five important fundamentals that you should be sure to cover:
The "From Field"

In the "from field", it's crucial that your name is displayed correctly; capitalization and punctuation included. For example if your name is John Doe Smith, your name should read John D. Smith, or John Doe Smith. Not john d smith, or john smith, or j. smith, and especially not a blank field with only an email address.

The correct capitalization and punctuation is so important here as it is the first impression the recipient will receive from you. Putting your name in all lower caps can often be perceived as someone who is spamming, but worse yet, it could indicate to the recipient that you"re possibly not as well educated or computer illiterate.

The Subject Line

The subject of an email is the second thing that a person sees when they view their email and decide whether or not to open it. People don"t usually open spam, and if your subject leads them to believe that your email is spam, it may be deleted without ever being opened. A subject line that is well thought out, short, descriptive and to the point, is the best type of subject line in order to ensure that your intended recipient, or recipients, will open your email.

Your subject should be limited to between five and seven words. These five to seven words need to convey the topic of your email accurately and should be clear as to the context you wish to convey. In an ongoing email conversation, you may adjust your subject to alert the other party of the topic in each of your replies, especially if the topic of discussion has changed.

The Email's Greeting

It"s very important to include a greeting at the start of every email. Have you ever opened an email from someone and it said something like, "I need those reports on my desk by the end of the day. - Mark"?

Did you feel like the person sending the email was being rude or bossy? Most people would, and that can cause unnecessary tension. An email with the same message can sound much friendlier written like this: "Hi Kevin, I'm writing to give you a friendly reminder that I will need those reports by the end of the day. Regards, Mark" See how much difference adding a few extra words and a hello can make? A simple hello followed by the person's name gives a much friendlier tone to email.

The Body of the Email

The body of your email is obviously the most important part of the email, and therefore should be written well, with time taken in order to assure that the message you are intending to get across is clear and well written. It's pertinent that you use proper grammar, including capitalization, punctuation, complete sentences and so forth. Proper paragraph form is important, as it shows your intellect and makes for much easier reading.

When you type in all caps, it sends the message that you are yelling, and unless that is your intent, it's best not to use all caps. All lower case letters may lead the reader to believe that you are lazy, and just didn't take the time to capitalize the words that should begin with a capital letter. Be sure you reread your email before sending to correct any grammar mistakes or missing words, and spell check as well, so you don"t accidentally say something you didn't mean to say.

The Closing Sentence of Your Email

The closing of your email is important because it gives you one last chance to say "Thank you", or "Look forward to hearing from you", "Regards", or even simply "Sincerely". This is the lasting impression you will leave on your reader, and you want the closing to be uniform with the rest of the emails tone. If you are speaking friendly, then end with a friendly closing.

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