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Small Business Tips

How to Write a Good Business E-mail

Rebecca Rustin
Tips for an effective email

E-mail is an immediate tool that's great for business communications. To ensure your e-mails do everything they set out to do, it's a good idea to make sure your business e-mail writing skills are up to par. Here are a few golden rules on how to write an effective business e-mail.

Keep things short

Writing e-mails that are short and to the point will ensure your messages get read. Keeping things short will also help you save time and make you more productive. The people reading your e-mails will save time too!  According to Guy Kawasaki of Canva, the perfect e-mail should have five sentences. "If you're asking something reasonable of a reasonable recipient, explain who you are in one or two sentences and get to the ask. If it's not reasonable, don't ask at all."

State your purpose

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Make sure that whoever is reading your e-mail can tell precisely why you are contacting them as soon as they read the first sentence. Why are you sending the e-mail? What do you need from the recipient? Make sure to write an opening sentence that provides answers to these questions.  If you can't answer these questions, the e-mail you're writing may not be necessary in the first place.  If you're writing to someone you don't know that well, or are writing for the first time, you can also avoid writing a long explanatory e-mail by asking for permission to engage.  An illustration can look like, "This is my name, and this is what I do. I would love to give you more information about my background to see if we might be able to work together. Would that be all right with you?"  

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Be personable, but don't go overboard

If you think it would be helpful to jog the recipient's memory about how you know each other, go ahead! But there's no need to write an entire paragraph about it.  Stick to something simple like, "It was nice to meet you at yesterday's event," or "So and so gave me your e-mail and told me to contact you."  Another great way to make sure the recipient can figure out who you are is by leaving your credentials at the end of the e-mail, such as in the signature pane. Including a website can be a good idea, too.

Include a descriptive subject line

Some people think it's okay to leave the subject line blank, but this is a mistake. The subject line is the first thing the recipient will read, and will virtually determine whether or not your message gets read.  When crafting a good subject line, be succinct yet descriptive. Are you writing about a business proposal? Or responding to a question? Write it in the subject line.  If you're still drawing a blank in this regard, state your purpose by rephrasing your e-mail's first line. Your first line must always assert your subject or mission!

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