Part 1 of a 3 Part Series – Impressing the hell out of those strangers over email
In today’s work environment, we all need to know how to market ourselves. If you want to truly succeed in running your own business, working for somebody else or even hunting for your dream job you really need to become an expert at networking.
There is just one problem: Our inboxes have turned into scary monsters. Totally. Out. Of. Control! People are increasingly being ambushed with unwanted messages, and they’re getting not so shy at hitting the delete key when faced with unsolicited emails. Often, you have only a few seconds to make a good impression.
I often work with my private coaching clients who ask how exactly do you do that?
How can you rise above the noise and make an impression? Your recipient will be asking themselves (albeit subconsciously) three questions to work out how to respond.
Yes these questions may hurt, but in a society where we have too much choice and too many things to do, people are rightly so becoming protective of their precious time.
I am not saying that somebody whose emails don’t pass muster deserves to be treated like a leper. It just means that armed with this knowledge you have a greater chance your message is heard and hopefully acted upon.
So consider these following questions and particularly if you are contacting a complete stranger.
Question #1 – Can You write well or well enough?
It may sound harsh, but most people don’t write very well. So when a well-composed email comes across my inbox, I immediately take notice. Why? Because I assume someone who can write well is also smart, ambitious and worth investing the time to connect with.
Get the basics right
Try to practice and implement all the lessons you learned in grade school English. You know grammar, spelling, and punctuation, do the best you can. Take care.
Proofread even if you despise doing it
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so take care. Proofread your emails if you’re reaching out to an important contact particularly for the first time.
It helps to read your message aloud. You’ll quickly hear the awkward parts.
Spell Check is your best friend.
Ditch text shorthand
Don’t even think about putting LOL into a business email. What this translates to is “please take my email less seriously”.
Think about tone
Tone can be tricky to express with an email, given there’s no face-to-face interaction. You want to be friendly and upbeat without coming across as overbearing or false.
You can use exclamation points, but do so conservatively and only after sentences that merit them. Don’t overdose on the smiley faces either-they scream tween!
Don’t skimp on capitalisation
if you don’t capitalise when you should, i guarantee you will rarely get replies. not capitalising the beginning of your sentences simply makes you look lazy. Don’t do it. Embrace that shift key.
Pick a professional email address
If you’re still rocking your @hotmail.com it’s time for an upgrade. Anytime I see an email address for one of these dated domains, I instantly think the person I’m corresponding with isn’t too tech-savvy. It may not be a fair judgment, but given that I have about 30 seconds to make the call, it’s the assumption I (and others) settle on.
You should have an email address from @gmail.com or from a business domain (compulsory if you run your own business). And make sure to keep it clean with a variation of your first and/or last name. If I were using my old high-school email address for firstname.lastname@example.org (no, I really had this email address but that is a whole other story) – I doubt I’d get many replies.
A few other tips to follow
- Keep it short! If it’s more than 7 sentences, you’ve written too much. For direct personalities like me 5 is ideal. Use bullet points if you have to.
- Don’t be overly personal. Bearing your soul to me in a first email is awkward and inappropriate.
- If your text color is anything other than black, change it back.
- Stick with a standard, professional font (times new roman, arial – yup those boring ones are best).
Look out for Parts 2 and 3 of this Email Series coming to your inbox soon
Amy is the Founder of Sterling and Hyde, Coaching Females How to Lead from the Corner Office at AmySinge.com. She was named one of Dynamic Business Magazine’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2012. Amy is a business coach who helps aspiring female leaders break through their glass ceilings (in corporate organisations or in their own businesses). To earn the seat they deserve at that all elusive leadership table. Amy also is the founder and creative director of Sterling and Hyde, a women’s accessory brand specialising in their own range of Italian leather handbags, costume jewellery and fashion accessories.