6 Emailing Tips for Business Professionals

Published on October 16, 2014

Most modern busines-types find themselves with full email inboxes on a day-to-day basis. It may seem simple enough to leave an email sitting there for a few days until you make the time to jot off a quick response, Google executive Eric Schmidt has some different ideas for you. Here are 6 insightful rules taken out of a recent article in Time Magazine which will up your emailing game to a professional rank.

1. Respond quickly

Strive to be the business professional who is known for their timely responses. We live in an age of instantaneous gratification - texting, googling, and Siri-ing are have built a client base that expects a timely response when they contact you in a digital manner. Responsiveness could be the difference between getting the job or not.

Responsiveness also serve to better your inter-personal connections with your team and colleagues. It is more likely that you will be kept in the loop with important discussions and decisions.

Do your responses have to be long? Not at all. A simple "got it" will suffice to let your team members know that their email has been read and that you're acting on it. This reads much better than a non-response, which is riddled with subtext, such as: "I'm far too busy to respond to you," or "I haven't read your email," or "I don't really care that much."

2. Be concise

While prose is nice to read in novel form, it just doesn't cut it in email format. Every word counts. Articulate your problems with clarity and precision. Consider writing a draft and then editing out any parts that would be skipped.

When you receive an email which does mandate a more lengthy response, do so in an organized fashion. Separate out topics of response by paragraphs, or if you are responding directly to a list of questions, copy and paste the questions from the original source and reply below.

3. Maintain a manageable inbox

Staying on top of your game requires an inbox that isn't overwhelmed with Grubhub orders and Groupon offers. Why waste valuable time scrolling for days through your inbox, just to figure out what it is you actually need to respond to?

Just remember: OHIO - Only Hold It Once. When you open an email, this is your moment of truth. You can:

  1. Read enough of it to know that you don't need it at all (Delete or archive)
  2. Read it and act on it (Reply and then archive)
  3. Read it and act later (Mark read and label email)
  4. Skim it and read later (Mark unread)

OHIO deems numbers 1 and 2 as your best options for a organized inbox (and also boosts your responsiveness!) Leaning too much towards numbers 3 or 4 overwhelms an inbox.

If you find your inbox particularly overwhelming to begin with, check out a inbox cleansing service like Unroll.me. It helps categorize emails while simultaneously working with you to define your important and unimportant emails. It will also begin automatically sorting your email down the line so you avoid this problem from the very beginning.

4. Forward out important information to others

When you get email with information pertinent to others in your team, forward that email stat (with a comment to the recipient about why they are getting forwarded the email and what they should do about it). Getting multiple eyes on one email is a great way to boost office efficiency and productivity.

5. Set up follow-up reminders for yourself

When you send out an email to a co-worker with an actionable task, make it easy to remind yourself to follow-up with them. Copy yourself on the note, and label it "follow up." That will make it easier for you to both find and follow up on items.

From there, you can simply resend the original note with a new intro, asking "Is this done?"

6. Re-annotate emails with descriptive keywords

Make emails easier to find. When you get an email, ask yourself: How will I search for this later? Forward an email to yourself with an updated email header, including keywords that you would probably search for later, such as "Technology Client" or "Internal Document."

Need help with an unruly inbox, or want to better organize your email strategy? Send us an email or give us a call! We'd be happy to help.