Ben Bleikamp at CollegeStartup wrote a great post about young people and their tone in email.Â While we have grown up on hundreds ofÂ hours of instant messaging, the older crowd isn’t as inclined to the casualness of the web.
“Being professional doesnâ€™t mean you have to be long winded or sound scripted. Just talk. Be natural. When I write an email I always whisper it to myself as I type, I want to make sure itâ€™s something I would actually say out loud.”
Keep Ben’s advice in mind when e-mailing potential bosses and when scouting internships this summer.Â When I email anyone over 25 I try to abide by the following “rules”.Â I’m no email guru but these are just some of my observations from my experiences.
1.Â Avoid any attempts at sarcasm
Sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we neglect to flip off the instant messaging switch.Â There are many business studies that show that e-mail tone is often misunderstood.Â Be clear and direct, and don’t crack any jokes your grandmother wouldn’t get.
2. As Mr. BleikampÂ warns: keep it short.
Surprisingly the book The Elements of Style (buy it…now!)Â can apply wonderfully to email.Â Any email longer than a paragraph or two should be a phone call.Â If you have a phobia about calling strangers…get over it.Â Think about if you were an employer.Â Would you rather hire a candidate that’s justÂ a series of faceless,Â voicelessÂ e-mails? Or the candidate that you can connect a voice (a therefore a personality)Â to?
3. Using a listserv?Â Dont hit reply.
I don’t know about other colleges but Temple University has a series of interdepartmental listservs that allow mass emails.Â Problem is, some people respond to those mass emails by hitting “reply” so their reply gets sent to the whole department.Â The journalism listserv at Temple is full of people shelling out their private info and then getting yelled at by six or seven disgruntled students who hate their inboxes being clogged.
4. Omit unnecessary e-mails.
I’m pretty sure professors and employersÂ get bombarded with hundreds of e-mails a week from students.Â Make sure when you e-mail someone for business or academic reasons thatÂ it’s a must.Â If you ever belonged to a forum community you should know all about this.
[tags]email, e-mail, College Startup, elements of style[/tags]