NEW YORK - Most business communication today is done via e-mail. It can be fast, efficient and less intrusive than picking up the phone to call the recipient. However, it can also cause unintended and embarrassing problems when senders don't follow some basic ground rules. So Verizon is offering some tips for avoiding the most common e-mailing pitfalls.
"With e-mail now the norm in offices, people forget that it's still business," said Michael Schaefer, director of business broadband services for Verizon. "The messages that are sent are less formal; some messages are sent 'reply to all' when it's not necessary; and the purpose for writing the e-mail is often hard to understand."
Verizon provides 2.5 million small businesses with its business e-mail service, which includes domain name e-mail and security suite to block against spam, viruses and more.
Schaefer provides these tips to keep in mind when e-mailing for business:
- Keep e-mails short and to the point.
Office e-mail has a specific business purpose such as getting results, communicating an important fact or getting a response. The chances of quickly accomplishing that purpose increase when your e-mail is short, easy to understand and gets to the point.
- Write the action you are requesting and topic in the 'subject' line.
Describe what you need the recipient to do and the topic in the "subject" line. Something short and to the point. For instance: "Please review Jones proposal letter;" or "Need blueprint for Jones project."
By clearly identifying the purpose of your e-mail in the subject line, the recipient will quickly know what you are writing about; it's easy to find; and it separates your e-mail from spam.
- Check your grammar and spelling.
Grammar and spelling are often overlooked, but remember that your e-mail may be going out to a client, a prospective client, your employees or maybe your boss. You want to look smart, not sloppy. Use any built-in spell check before sending an e-mail.
- Be cautious. Think before you send an e-mail.
It's so easy to hit the "reply" button and write a message. This can be a problem if you act spontaneously. Temper and tone matter.
In most instances, once an e-mail is sent, it's gone. You cannot take it back. So if you have written any harsh words or forwarded an inappropriate e-mail to several colleagues and inadvertently added your boss's name to the distribution list, once you hit "send" they will be reading it shortly.
- Remember that e-mail is not private.
When you send an e-mail to someone, it goes through many networks before it reaches your recipient and may even leave copies of your e-mail on a server, which can be accessed. It may seem as though you are communicating only with that person (and in most instances you are); however, your e-mail can be forwarded by the recipient to others.
Verizon offers an e-mail encryption product called Verizon Secure Mail, which encrypts a sender's e-mail message and digitally signs it. The service also verifies and authenticates that the message has not been altered and prevents it from being opened by anyone except the intended recipient. Additionally, users can lock e-mails so that they cannot be viewed by others.
- Use out of office response, if available, to alert others of your absence.
Many e-mail systems and services let you set up an automatic reply advising senders that you are not available. For efficiency of communications, trigger this auto-reply tool when you are away so senders know not to expect a timely response.
- Keep it strictly business.
It is best not to use the business e-mail systems for personal communication. Use your personal e-mail instead.
- Be courteous, considerate and responsible when writing an e-mail message.
Communication via e-mail is often considered informal, but you shouldn't treat it that way. Remember, your e-mail may be going to your boss, your clients, your prospective clients, your colleagues. Be courteous and reply in a timely manner.
It's good to have a signature in your e-mail so the recipient can easily contact you. Additionally, it clearly identifies you and your company. Before e-mailing a large file, it's wise to alert the recipients to be sure they want the file and in case they need to make room for it.
- Lastly, make sure your computer is virus-free because you don't want to be the person sending everyone a virus.
There is plenty of software available, and if you get your Internet services through Verizon, an Internet security suite package that protects against spam, viruses and much more is included.
"Keeping these tips in mind when writing an e-mail on the job means you'll be less likely to send an embarrassing or sometimes damaging e-mail, and you'll always come across as a professional," said Schaefer.
Verizon offers a broad range of products and services that allow businesses to customize the solutions they need to better compete in the marketplace, including innovations like e-mail encryption and the Verizon Broadband Toolbar for Businesses. Recently, Verizon launched Premium Technical Support at $9.99 per month. This service offers affordable, expert help for problems with spyware, adware, viruses, Internet security, hardware issues, computer operating systems and other problems not typically covered by many Internet providers' standard support services.
For more information about Verizon's small-business products, visit www.verizon.com/business. For more information about Verizon's products and services for the medium-sized business, visit www.verizon.com/businesspower.
Business customers looking for tools, resources and online courses can go to the Verizon Small Business Center, http://business.verizon.net.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 59 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 242,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.