Managing personal brand is a big task in the digital era… especially because email is now THE way we engage in business – with colleagues, customers, stakeholders and suppliers alike. In our busy working lives, the simplicity of email is alluring, but it’s also deceptive.
Looking to make a good impression? Read on for three easy, yet powerful tips to ensure your email habits help support your positive personal brand.
Proofread your email like it will be forwarded to your CEO
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Avoid looking unprofessional and careless by taking the time to edit, revise and proofread your entire email. Yes – that includes your subject line.
As we rush to manage the ever-growing mountain of emails in our inbox, it’s easy to forget that email is an extension of our professional-selves; a reflection of who we want to put out into the big bad world of business. No one wants to be that person who carelessly spelt their customer’s name wrong (again), or sent off a scattered, sloppy email that was forwarded on to an important stakeholder.
Keep an eye out for proper capitalisation, spelling, punctuation and grammar. Also, make sure you fact check: data, dates, events and, perhaps most importantly, names. Was it Shaun, Shawn or Sean; Jacqui or Jackie? With so many different ways to spell people’s names, take a moment to double check before you hit send. Nothing sours a first impression like a salutation where the recipient’s name is spelled incorrectly.
If you compose most of your emails from your smart phone or mobile device, a friendly disclaimer can be useful as well. For example, you might include: “Apologies for any errors – this was sent on the go from my mobile!” after your standard email signature. While this by no means implies that you can skip the all-important proofreading step, it does offer some forgiveness for the odd mistake when you’re on your handheld device.
Keep it simple or pick up the phone
Just like you, your recipient is short on time. They’ll appreciate an email that gets to the point quickly. No one wants to spend 10 minutes deciphering a convoluted email that could have been summed up in a few key points and actionable items.
Emails are not essays; write concisely and state your purpose clearly. Use bullet points or numbered lists to draw attention to the most important thoughts or to-dos for your reader.
If you feel the content is complicated or difficult to summarise in a paragraph or two, it may be best to just pick up the phone and call instead.
Leave a lasting impression
First impressions are important – and so are last impressions.
You’ve taken the time to craft a stellar email, don’t blow up your personal brand with a clumsy email signature. While often overlooked, email signatures are akin to modern day business cards. Great ones make it easy for the other person to get in touch with you while simultaneously reminding them of your brand.
The best email signatures are concise and as uncluttered as possible. They include the basics – your full name, current title, the company you work for and the way you’d like them to get in contact with you (e.g. if you want them to call you, rather than send you snail mail – include your phone number and actively avoid listing your address). Don’t waste valuable screen space by including your email address in your signature; they already have it. Instead provide a link to your company’s website.
In today’s media obsessed world, you might also include social badges. Just ensure they point to active accounts that are reserved for your professional use (no Friday night warrior photos please).
Speaking of photos, they can be great way to personalise your email signature. Just be mindful of the load time for large images and be aware that not all email clients play nicely with pictures.
Alternatively, you can make your signature pop with a splash of colour. Just remember to stick to a palette of 2 or 3 colours maximum, and preferably ones that compliment your company logo or corporate themes/branding.
By seamlessly blending the personal and professional, a polished email signature has the power to leave a positive, lasting impression.
Have a few extra minutes this afternoon? I think you know what to do.
Published - July 30, 2016