Posted Saturday, December 18, 2004
E-mail is without a doubt the best business-building tool to hit the home-based business arena since the fax! Why? Because it is low cost, instantaneous, flexible and absolutely anyone who can type can learn how to use it to their advantage.
But just because you know how to open, write and send an e-mail doesn't mean you are making the most of this incredible tool. In fact direct sellers who fail to follow simple e-mail etiquette may be doing more harm than good. Check these Ten Commandments of Proper E-mailing to see how you measure up.
1. E-mail netiquette:
> Thou shall not SHOUT (all caps)
> Thou shall not flame (profanity)
> Thou shall not SPAM (unsolicited junk e-mail)
> Thou shall not attach large files (or more than one at a time)
2. Be Brief And To The Point - Messages should be concise and to the point. Think of it as a telephone conversation, except you are typing instead of speaking. Nobody has ever won a Pulitzer Prize for a telephone conversation nor will they win one for an e-mail message.
3. Always Use The Subject Line - The subject line of your e-mail determines whether it will be read or not, so make it compelling. Including an appropriate description in the subject line is a courtesy that will be much appreciated by clients who need to store and easily reference previous e-mails.
4. Include a Signature - A custom signature, automatically added to your outgoing e-mail is one more opportunity to promote your business and invite people to your website.
(In Outlook, you must first open a blank e-mail and then select Tools, Options and the General tab. At the bottom right corner you'll see a button that will allow you to create as many signatures as you want).
5. BCC - (This stands for Blind Copy) - Don't expose your friends and relatives to the risk of receiving future unsolicited e-mails. When sending an e-mail to numerous contacts, place your name on the TO: line and the rest of the e-mail addresses in the BCC line. This way, your friend's and family's e-mail address is not distributed along with the message.
6. Be Pleasant! Nobody like to receive boring, curt or rude e-mails. Begin your e-mail by addressing the recipient in a friendly, positive manner. When a pleasant attitude is conveyed through your e-mail message you build rapport more quickly.
7. Always reply as quickly as possible - Develop a good impression by responding to business related e-mails. The more promptly you can write back the better. Start with the oldest e-mail first.
8. Avoid Over Punctuation - Don't get caught up in grammar and punctuation, especially excessive punctuation. You'll see lots of e-mail messages where people put a dozen exclamation points at the end of a sentence for added emphasis. If something is important it should be reflected in your text, not in your punctuation. Exclamation points (called "bangs" in computer circles) are just another form of ending a sentence.
9. Back up your e-mail address book! - Windows-based users might try these steps to find the approariate files on your hard drive. Using the "find" command type *.wab (Windows Address Book) and select the Find Now. Once you locate the file, copy it onto a floppy disk for safekeeping.
10. Use Plain Text Format - Formatting can be everything, but not in your e-mails. Plain text is best. Using HTML, or Rich Text Format is a bit risky because there are lots of e-mail clients (and some servers) that can't handle messages in these formats. The message will come in as utter gibberish or in the worst case, crash the e-mail client. I've seen it happen.
(In Outlook go to Tools, Options, Mail Format and change to Plain Text. If you want to take the risk and use Word to format messages, click the box that says Use Microsoft Word.)
Taking time to learn the basics of e-mailing will greatly enhance your ability to build on-line relationships and work more effectively in less time. Make it a priority today!
About the Author
This article has been provided by Jane Deuber who is a Co-Founder of the Direct Selling Women's Association. The Association offers a community web site where direct sellers enjoy 24-hour access to industry specific information and resources designed to help them successfully manage their business. Discover this one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive business-building resource at (http://www.mydswa.org) or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.