Structure the Communication for Optimal Results

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Structure the Communication for Optimal Results

Structure the Communication for Optimal Results

A well-written, structured email provides information about you and your level of professionalism; therefore, this should be considered every time you write a business email.

Below is a general structure to business emails that works well, shows your professionalism, and leaves your reader with a good feeling about doing business with you.

  1. Greeting
  2. Reason for email
  3. Body of email
  4. Closing line
  5. Signature

Let's look at each of these sections in detail, keeping in mind that as the conversation moves forward in the email, not as much detail will be necessary in some of the sections.

Greeting

The greeting in a business email message is fairly simple. If it is someone you know and have done business with in the past, an informal "Hi NAME" or slightly more formal "Dear NAME" will work just fine.

If the recipient of the message is someone you do not know, but you know the name, then it is appropriate to greet the person with "Mr. NAME" or "Ms. NAME." If you are writing to someone whose name you do not know, the proper greeting can be simply "Hello."

The thing to remember is to use a greeting of some kind. It will help set the tone for the message.

The second part of the greeting is the ice breaker. It is just a quick, pleasant extension of the greeting and can look like this for a first-time correspondence:

  1. I hope the day/week is going well for you.
  2. I hope all is well since we last spoke.
  3. I hope all is well.

Once you have corresponded at least once, this part of the greeting should change to include an acknowledgement of their return message:

  • Thanks for getting back to me.
  • Thanks for your quick response.
  • Thanks for your response.

This second part of the greeting is also very important in setting a professional, yet friendly and approachable tone to your email.

Reason for email

When contacting a recipient for the first time, mention how you obtained the recipient's contact information. Possibly you met him or her at a conference or other meeting and exchanged business cards, or you found his or her contact information on a Web site. Establishing a connection early in your message will help your reader want to continue reading the message.

Once you have established a rapport with your reader, you will need to tell him or her just what it is you are emailing about. Make sure this comes close to the top of the message, right after the greeting, so your reader does not have to scroll down to see just what the email is all about.

This can be a single sentence, and should not be more than two sentences at the most. Some examples of this are:

  • I wanted to hear your opinion on ...
  • I want to update you on ...
  • I have some news for you about ...

Make it interesting, short, and to the point. You want your reader to read on to find out the rest of the information, but remember that email messages should be short and concise. If the readers do not have to scroll through the email to find out what it is all about, they will appreciate it and will stay on the message to read more if the topic is of interest to them.

Body of email

The body of the email should be short, to the point, and understandable. Bullet points are appropriate ways to list several points in an email, but they need to be introduced so the reader can follow the content.

There are three parts to the body of the email:

  1. Situation, problem, or issue: In this part you will write a sentence or two describing whatever the topic of the email is. Introduce one situation, problem, or issue per paragraph. If there are more than two or three situations, consider multiple emails, each one dealing with the individual topics.
  2. Benefits, solutions, or suggestions: A sentence or two explaining the benefit to the reader or suggested solutions to the problems is next in the body of the email. Always keep in mind the length and conciseness of the message.
  3. Call to action: Finally, you want to ask your reader to do something. This can be simply asking for a response so you know the message was received and read, or it can be asking them to perform a task, make a decision, or even purchase something.

Closing Line

The closing line is as important as the ice breaker at the beginning. It should be friendly, professional, and pleasant. Examples of closing lines are:

  • I look forward to your response.
  • Thank you for helping with this.
  • Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

This short message will leave your readers with a good feeling about you and your professional way of doing business.

Signature

The signature follows the closing line. Many email programs have an auto signature feature which gives you the opportunity to put contact information, links to your Web site, etc. in your signature so you don't have to type that information every time you send an email. The auto signature also gives your readers instant access to any information you want them to have.

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