Communications Class: Email & Voicemail Etiquette

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Some rules were made to be broken. The rules of good business manners were not. When sending emails, or leaving voicemails, here are a few guidelines to help you communicate with good taste, and achieve great results.

1. Make a Proper Introduction. An email subject header should be specific and searchable. “Follow-up from ATD Learning & Development SIG ” or “Conversation about development sites” are helpful and appropriate. Generic headers such as “Hello from Joe” or “Hey Kristine” will not catch your target’s attention, or help her remember you as a serious professional.

2. Ask for What you Want. Include a specific call to action to elicit a specific reply.  An example of a confident and professional request is “I would like to continue our conversation, and discuss your firm’s design projects. Would you prefer to meet for lunch next Monday, or over coffee Tuesday afternoon?”An example of a weak and vague statement is “Great meeting you. Hope to see you again soon”. Do not simply say, “let’s get together”, and expect your target to handle the details. Man up. If you want a business date, you have to ask for it. Offer a choice of dates and times, and go for it.

3. Do Tell, Don’t Sell. Provide relevant information, instead of a cheesy infomercial. Don’t include a three-paragraph sales pitch in your email; and don’t leave a three-minute voice mail on my phone. I won’t read it, or listen to it. Do include a brief explanation of why you want to meet me, and why I should want to meet you, and I’ll graciously consider it and reply.

4. Proofread. Use proper grammar, full sentences and spellcheck. Your words matter, so make them write. (Right !)

5. Follow the Golden Rule. The next time you’re not sure what to do, think about your own reactions to requests you received. Remember which email caught your attention, which voicemail earned a return call, and what made you roll your eyes and say “I’m not meeting with that moron”. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and you’ll be remembered as a class act.

Author’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in the New York Real Estate Journal on August 14, 2012. Thank you NYREJ, for giving us the opportunity to politely express our views.

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