As a person or a professional, we are often required to represent ourselves well. When it comes to building communication, be it an oral or a written one, what we say and the manner of saying it play an important role in whether our intention is well received by the interlocutor.
Talking about written communication, sometimes we have only one chance to make the impression that we are a competent and reliable person/professional to work with. Therefore, every time we write a business letter or an email, proper written language, grammar use, and etiquette must always be kept in mind.
1. Start with respective letterhead and filling ‘to’, ‘cc’, and ‘bcc’
An official letter from a body or an institution usually already has a default letterhead. If we are an applicant, the format is simpler but not less important.
To: the person who will take immediate action or give immediate response to your email.
CC: the person who should be kept in the loop because his role is also related to the email’s content.
BCC: the person who should be aware of the email being sent, but not having direct responsibility to the email. The person put on BCC does not see his name anywhere in the recipient box, nor will he see the other recipients who are also put on BCC.
2. The importance of subject
Professionals receive dozens up to hundreds of emails daily, and it is possible that they scroll down their email account overlooking our email. That is why we need to make our subject relevant and related to the email’s content, so the recipient can see what we want to say just by reading the subject. Keeping the subject line properly and effectively written is also necessary. Try to maintain its length to around 5 to 10 words and use proper capital letters.
3. Body text must not be empty
Sole email attachments without an elaborated body text are often considered rude. Body text is the main content of a business letters or an email, so it should never be left empty.
Always start with greetings
If we know the name of the recipient, it is preferable to address with ‘Dear Mr’ or ‘Dear Mrs.’ If we don’t, we can start with ‘Dear esteemed customer’, ‘Dear valued partner’, etc.
If this is the first correspondence, introduction is important
If this is the first time we are sending the letter to that particular recipient, we need to mention our name and a brief introduction of who we are.
End the emails with ‘thank you’
No matter how bad we feel at the time of writing the email, we still need to thank the reader for his attention and his immediate action to take care of the issue. The ‘thank you’ part will also make the recipient feels more respected and appreciated. What is also necessary is adding a sentence to indicate whether we require the recipient’s immediate response. The following examples can be added:
“I am looking forward to hearing back from you.”
“Your immediate response is very much appreciated.”
“I hope to hear back from you.”
Attachment is not a replacement to the body text, even though it often comes in a more elaborated version. To make sure the recipient is aware of the attachment, we can mention in the body text by saying:
“Attached is the copy of my purchase order for your reference.”
“Please have a look into the attachment for more details.”
“I also attached with this email my CV and recommendation letter from previous company.”
Most email hosting services limit their attachment size to maximum 5 or 10 megabytes. If the attachment of our email exceeds that size, we can use a file-sharing platform and then copy-paste the download link in to our email.
5. What else to avoid
The business letter or email that we write should represent our level of professionalism. Therefore, the following needs to be avoided.
– The use of internet abbreviation, such as LOL, ASAP, OFC, TTYL, etc.
– Non-professional font, such as the one that looks like it is coming from comic book or horror movie.
– Emoticons. Yes, emoticons are meant to make written communication seems more friendly, but we can save it for messengers.
– One or two liners, such as ‘Yes, fine’ or ‘OK’. Even though we may have discussed the topic previously via phone call or face to face discussion, the email should always come with a recapitulation of that discussion.