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.