When it comes to business communication, do you know the unwritten rules?
You just signed a new client last week and you have some important information to share with them. As you sit down to write out the email, you wonder, would a text be a better option? Your phone is right there, and you know their number...
The world of business communication is evolving as quickly as technology changes. Our mobile phones make most of us accessible at any time, any where. So the rules around communication can get confusing and the lines between personal and professional are often quite blurry. But knowing the right (and wrong) ways to communicate with your clients and coworkers can make the difference between having a healthy business relationship or being that one guy that no one takes seriously. So we've put together a list of simple etiquette for business communication.
DO NOT: USE TEXTING AS YOUR PRIMARY BUSINESS COMMUNICATION.
Texting should be used sparingly, and only with established customers, clients or coworkers. Don't start off your business relationship with text messages.
DO: BE PROFESSIONAL.
This should go without saying, but it's an important rule when it comes to communicating with clients or customers. Unless you have a personal friendship with the client you're addressing, stick with standard salutations such as “Hello,” or “Good morning,” rather than “Yo,” or “Hey, man.” Also, when replying to emails from your phone, be sure the message is coming from your business account. Your customers will be less likely to take you seriously if they receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO NOT: TEXT AFTER BUSINESS HOURS.
Unless it's a real emergency, if you must communicate with a customer or client after hours send an email. With our increasingly busy schedules, many of us work outside the standard business hours, but don't assume the person you're communicating with wants to receive a business text at 8:00 pm.
DO: USE A SIGNATURE.
Don't make your customers do a Google search to find your phone number. Make sure your contact information is right at hand in an email signature. Your signature should include your full name and phone number at the very least, but including email and web addresses makes it handy for customers to refer you to others – simply by sharing your signature with someone else.
DO: INCLUDE A CLEAR SUBJECT LINE.
As people often decide whether or not to open an email based on its subject line, this can make a big difference. While some studies show that leaving a subject line empty increases the chances of your email being opened, if you want to make sure your messages are relevant to your customers or co-workers, be sure to include a descriptive subject line. “Meeting date rescheduled” or “Suggestions for next week's presentation” give your reader a clear expectation before they open your message.
DO NOT: ABUSE GROUP TEXTING.
Sending out a group text message is a convenient way to reach multiple people at once, but no one wants their phone to blow up with a dozen messages about last week's meeting from Bob and Steve. Use group texting sparingly, and don't send individual replies or messages from within a group text.
DO NOT: USE EMOJIS.
While they're fun and can brighten up a dull text or email message, reserve emojis for personal communication. The only emoticon typically accepted in business communication is the standard smiley face. :)
DO: USE PROPER GRAMMAR AND BE SURE TO SPELL CHECK.
While you may use acronyms in everyday chats with friends (and even some colleagues), reserve acronyms - like lol, btw and ttys - and cute phrases for personal communication. Also, even in text messages, be sure to use proper grammar and check your spelling, especially as autocorrect can some times make embarrassing substitutions. Read and re-read your messages before hitting the send button.
DO NOT: TEXT BAD NEWS.
While it may seem like a quick solution to an uncomfortable situation, texting is too casual for sending negative feedback or unpleasant information. Never, ever quit a job by text message and never, ever use texting for performance reviews or to sever a business relationship.
DO: DOUBLE CHECK THAT YOU'VE SELECTED THE RIGHT RECIPIENT.
It's probably happened to all of us – we sent a text message and then had to send “Ooooops! That was meant for someone else!” When it comes to business communication, sending messages to the wrong person can be embarrassing at best and disastrous at worst, so double - and triple - check that you have the right recipient before sending. No one wants to accidentally send “Pick up milk on the way home, luv ya!” to their biggest client.
These are just some of the important points you should consider when choosing when and how to communicate with business connections. And remember, always assume that others will see what you write, whether an email or a text message. So keep that in mind when communicating and don't write anything you wouldn't want everyone to see. As always, when in doubt, it never hurts to pick up the phone and call, as long as you're operating within standard business hours.