Whether you’re searching for work, trying to secure a promotion, or aiming to build out your professional network, the way that you communicate in a business setting shapes how others perceive you. Follow these tips to keep your emails and phone calls professional:
-Send one word emails or long, rambling emails.
-Address non-military contacts as “sir” or “ma’am.”
-Use emoticons or texting abbreviations (e.g. BTW, LOL).
-Include excessive exclamation points.
-Write with all capital letters or all lower case letters.
-Send a follow-up immediately after sending an initial email
-Guess at the gender of a contact who has a gender-neutral name
-Keep subject lines specific and concise.
-Include both a greeting and signature.
-When addressing someone formally, use Mr. or Ms.; generally avoid Mrs. and Miss.
-Follow your contact’s lead. If he or she signs off with a first name only, consider yourself to be on a first-name basis.
-Respond to emails within 24-48 hours. If you know ahead of time that you’ll need longer, email your contact to give an estimate of when you’ll be able to respond in full.
-Keep your language polite; “Please” and “thank you” go a long way, even in business.
Remember: Once sent, your emails live on forever! Always keep your tone positive, warm, and diplomatic. When in doubt about the wording of an email, have a friend or colleague read it over.
-Answer the phone if you are eating or chewing gum.
-Make calls to a contact’s cell phone outside of business hours.
-Try to multi-task while on the phone.
-Have a professional voicemail greeting with your first and last name
-Leave succinct voicemail messages, and always include your full name and number
-Let your contact know ahead of time if you will not be able to make a scheduled call
Job-Searchers: If you receive an unscheduled call from a potential employer, let it go to voicemail unless you are completely prepared to take the call. You can listen to the voicemail, gather any materials you need (such as your resume or cover letter), and then call the employer back.
Ultimately, your communication style can help or hurt your career. Sloppy emails or rude calls can damage your professional reputation. However, polished and polite communication can be an easy way to establish trust and build out your network.
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