Do you practice good etiquette and safety when using e-mail? Do you know how to protect yourself from certain risks, like malware and phishing?
Guess what?! You're not alone!
Like any form of communication, it's important to practice good etiquette and safety when communicating with others. Here are a few tips to help you communicate more effectively using e-mail:
- Always include an opening and closing greeting. While e-mail is designed to be short, sweet, and to the point, remember to draft your emails with an individual in mind. You never know, that connection could be the foundation of making or breaking a relationship with networking opportunities.
- Be clear and concise. People are more likely to read an e-mail if they know what it is about. Be sure to include a relevant subject line. Also, remember avoiding long run-on sentences or rambling. Details are important, but make sure they are clear.
- Check your tone. Remember to phrase things in the clearest way possible. Avoid using irony, puns, or sarcasm. Although you may mean no harm, other readers may not be able to recognize your well intentions.
- Reply carefully. Double check the CC and BCC fields carefully before responding to an e-mail. It's easy to include recipients by accident. Avoid using the BCC fields when corresponding with your client(s). It doesn't matter how convenient it is. (Some clients may not know what BCC is and may click reply all on an e-mail that originally went to opposing counsel only. Imagine a client responding back to you under attorney-client privilege and that e-mail being sent also to opposing counsel.)
- Review before sending. Check grammar and spelling. 99.9% of the time e-mails cannot be unsent. Remember to ALWAYS make sure your spelling and grammar is error free.
- Limit text formatting. Although your e-mail software/editor may have many formatting options, remember that some recipients are not as fortunate. Be aware that formatting can make e-mail difficult to read and look unprofessional.
- Use a short signature. Do you have a long signature? You might want to shorten it up so that people know how you want to be contacted. While employers have their own signature policies, many do not. Include only your preferred contact information.
- Avoid CAPS lock. While it may sound silly, writing/typing in ALL CAPS is actually a form of shouting! Recipients who know this may think you are angry or upset with them. Also, some users find it difficult to read. Avoid making this most basic e-mail etiquette error.
- Ignore chain e-mails. We all get them! You know those chain e-mails that involve "if you love your dog, share this message" or "read this right away and then forward", etc. Guess what? Those messages are a form of spam. Just like you receive junk mail in your post office box at home, so will you receive hoax mail in your personal or work inbox. Stop the cycle and don't share.
- Never attach a file without mentioning it. Always attach files before you write your e-mail (so that you don't forget to send them) and always mention the attachment somewhere in the body of your e-mail (so your recipient won't forget to open it/read it).
- Consider file size and format. Avoid sending large files or uncompressed photos. Also, make sure your files / attachments don't need to be viewed using a special program.
- Always include related attachments. Sometimes you may need to send multiple attachments. Send each attachment in multiple e-mails, especially if your recipient is not familiar with those multiple attachments.
- In business, use a basic e-mail address. If your e-mail address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, then you might want to create a new e-mail address. Some attorneys or businesses may actually consider your e-mail address to be a spam and your e-mail address could leave a bad impression.
- Be courteous and polite. Using informal language or street talk is unprofessional to some recipients.
- Never use profanity. Using profanity is extremely unprofessional and in some cases may result in disciplinary action through your employer.
- Be cautious and discreet. Be aware that potentially your e-mails could be read. Never send anything defamatory or derogatory that others could take offense to.
- Avoid sending highly sensitive information. Never include any personal information like your social security number, date of birth, passwords, or a credit card number. Cybercriminals prey on sensitive information like this and will use it to steal your identity.
- Know what you should look for when it comes to e-mail and internet safety.
- Spam - modern day junk mail or unwanted advertisements. Remember to ignore or delete these messages. They are not worth getting malware over.
- Phishing- there are all forms of phishing out there including spear phishing and whaling. Cybercriminals will use whatever tactic they can to make you think you need to take action like send money, etc. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Attachments - Some attachments can contain viruses or malware like ransomware. Never open attachments you aren't expecting. If you are unsure, call the sender and ask him/her if he/she sent the e-mail/attachment.
While some etiquette is meant to be broken, remember to tailor each e-mail with these simple guidelines in mind. Also, don't forget to learn more about e-mail etiquette and management at the LPM-TECH Conference on 9/16/16. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.