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The Art of Emailing at Work

If you thought email etiquette was a thing of the past then think again! Read on for some reminders from Asif Khan on how to think through your use of e-communications in the professional space.
BY Asif Khan |   18-10-2013
We have seen a revolution in personal and professional communication tools - electronic communication has become a dominant form of communication for a large percentage of business transactions. We are certainly reaching new heights of casual dialogue in electronic communication with friends and family, which  should never ever be replicated in business communications. Hence, it is important to follow certain rules for business dialogue; whether for job search or for your daily communication with colleagues, bosses and customers or clients.

Writing a Professional email

The first thing I will personally urge you is to refrain from using any acronyms (ie. LOL!) which you have used during your casual communications, and treat all messages as formal business dialogue. This will show your strong professionalism and prevent any confusion in understanding of the content.

I have seen several emails that have not been spell checked and hence reflect poorly on the sender - particularly in  emails for networking and potential employment opportunities. It is imperative that your grammar and punctuation marks are double-checked as this marks your ability to compile a professionally written note. Any thing less can result in the outright rejection of your candidacy.

Always address the e-mail to a Mr. or  Ms. depending on their gender – and follow this with their last name if you don’t know the person. You must end the email with Best Regards or Sincerely, and thank the person in advance for their consideration.

Work email 101

I have seen people sending jokes, videos or pictures, some of them inappropriate, from their work email addresses, which eventually caused them to lose their jobs or be disciplined for such conduct. You should save these type of emails for your social correspondence, using personal email address. The compliance and HR departments of most firms now have software that catches certain words and can immediately flag your email and bring it to the attention of supervisors.

I will go one step further and advise you that all online communications related to work and profession must be treated as formal communications. You should remember that emails don’t disappear and anything you write in them can show up later in your life and could embarrass you further and even lead to legal troubles. We have all seen several corporate figures being prosecuted and punished based on email exchanges that became headlines on the front page of newspapers causing resignations and some of them leading to conviction of financial crimes. Its good to err on the side of caution and perhaps call the recipient if you are not certain of communicating the content of the email, as it Is always better to be safe than sorry.

Since online communication is pervasive, it will be vital in today’s world to become fully familiar with the etiquettes of handling such communication or risk extinction.

Asif Khan is a Wall Street banker with 15 years of experience – and has held roles in corporate finance, research, sales & trading in securitized products, and emerging markets. Beginning his career at Salomon Brothers in NY, he has also worked at Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs & Morgan Stanley. He is currently Managing Director with a boutique investment banking firm in NY. He holds an M.B.A. from William E. Simon School at University of Rochester and a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) from Connecticut State University.



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