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SMC|Student Services|Career Services Center |Etiquette Tip of the Week

Etiquette Tip of the Week

Etiquette Tip of the Week: This time, it's personal

"When an email doesn't have a salutation, I don't know whether it is addressed to me, or blind copied to a hundred others."

That was a great insight I received from a Career Services executive at a top law school.

Email is fast and efficient. Emails are read quickly -- we are more likely to scan an email than to read every word. Emails are also written quickly, leaving more room for error... and informality.

When using email for business, make it more, well... businesslike. That doesn't mean it has to be stiff and formal with all the charm of the National Spelling Bee word list. It means personalize it.

1) Begin with a salutation (Dear...: or To....:) and end with a closing (Sincerely, All the best, Warm regards,).

2) State your purpose early. ("I'm writing to follow up on our conversation yesterday.") Another great insight came from an executive recruiter who said, "If someone emails you a request, acknowledge it." ("I will get you those numbers by end of business Thursday.")

3) Use plain language. Don't try to impress with complicated words that readers might stumble over. ("Use" instead of "utilize." "Agree" instead of "concur.") Avoid texting jargon. Call me old and unhip, but when I get texting jargon, I usually have to look it up.

4) Make people feel like you are talking to them, not just anyone. ("Attached is the information we talked about. Thank you for taking time to meet with me.")

5) Proofread, so it's easy to read. An email full of spelling and grammar errors is like telling the reader, "You weren't worth me taking a second look."

Now that you know how to write a better business email, you can get back to clearing yours
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The Etiquette Tip of the Week may be forwarded to others who really, really need it, pinned to billboards, taped to the water cooler, blogged, Tweeted or used to fill that last little hole in your newsletter. Giving credit to the Culture and Manners Institute at is the polite thing to do.

The Culture and Manners Institute is all about respect. Therefore, your email address will not be sold, traded or gifted to other parties, as that would not be a polite thing to do.
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