Magazine article Business Credit

You Are What You Write: Six Ways to Ensure That Your E-Mail Makes-Not Breaks-Your Career

Magazine article Business Credit

You Are What You Write: Six Ways to Ensure That Your E-Mail Makes-Not Breaks-Your Career

Article excerpt

Type. Click. Send. We do it every day without a second thought. E-mail has become the most prevalent form of communication in the business world. Professionals are increasingly known by their "e-mail personas" as this medium replaces face-to-face meetings and phone calls. What's more, the "barriers" that once shielded those at the top echelons of business have broken down. Executives who once dictated letters to their secretaries now send their own e-mail from PCs, laptops, and Blackberries[R]. In the space of a decade, all the rules have changed--and what we e-mail is, in the eyes of recipients, who we are.

"E-mail has not only changed the way we do business, it has begun to define how we are viewed as professionals and people," asserts Janis Fisher Chan, author of E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide--How to Write and Manage E-Mail in the Workplace. "We must be sure that our e-mail messages are sending the fight messages about us."

Here are a few tips from the author to improve your email management. Use the journalistic triangle to get to the point fast. Have you ever noticed that the first paragraph of a newspaper article contains the most important information? Here's an easy way to figure out what your main point is: Imagine that your reader is about to go through airport security on her way to an important meeting. You have 15 seconds to shout out your message before she disappears into the crowd--what would you say?

A well-written subject line is like the headline for a newspaper article: it draws the reader's attention and tees the reader what the e-mail is about. Instead of "New Program," write "Accepting applications for flex-time program." Instead of "Changes," write "Health benefits to change next year." Instead of "Dates," write "Kickoff Meeting--Apr. 2, 6, or 9?" Be informative and compelling.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell said that workers who reflexively check and respond to each e-mail that drops into their inbox--thus failing to stay focused on a single work-related task--suffer from Attention Deficit Trait (ADT). Here are some of Chan's techniques for combating this common problem:

* Turn off your computer's "You've Got Mail" signal. …

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