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E-Mails: Expanding Your Sphere Of Influence Through Better Business Communications
By Jane Watson   Printer Friendly Version

People of influence are the men and women within an organization whose opinions count-not necessarily because they rank high on an "org" chart-but because they have acknowledged experience or are associated with people of authority.

Someone once said the telephone was the death of writing. If this is true, I believe e-mails are its rebirth.

E-mails are now the preferred way of doing business in many companies when people want quick results. However, you will never expand the sphere of your influence within an organization, if you are guilty of sending out e-mails that cause readers to throw up their hands in despair.

You know the ones: e-mails that are riddled with spelling and punctuation errors; writing styles that seem to be an outpouring of random thoughts; or requests for action that are vague or difficult to interpret.

Here are some rules for writing e-mails to expand your sphere of influence:

1. To ensure the receiver actually opens your e-mail, hook the reader with the subject line. If you have a deadline, place it here, as well as in the body.

2. Start your message with the person's name. (Never use Dear in an e-mail.) If you are writing to a number of people, begin with an informal word such as, greetings or team.

3. Your first paragraph should tell the reader why he should read your message. The following paragraphs provide necessary details; the final paragraph states the action required. Never write in a chronological fashion. Today's readers don't have time for once-upon-a-time writing.

4. E-mails were designed for quick messages requiring quick responses. Most people dislike e-mails that go beyond three screen scrolls. Keep paragraphs under five lines long and use numbered lists whenever possible.

5. Before hitting the send key, check your e-mail for spelling and grammar errors. People won't tell you about it, but they'll certainly remember you if your e-mails don't project a professional image.

6. E-mails can come across as abrupt and demanding. Remember the words of courtesy, please and thank you; explain why you need an action taken. Original: I need the figures by Friday. Revised: Please e-mail me the figures by Friday so I can complete the ABC proposal.

7. End your e-mail with a warm close, Regards, Thank you, Cheerio, TTFN.

8. Don't send e-mails to "strut your stuff." Send them only to people who need the information.

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