Email etiquette a must when contacting professionals

The professional world has evolved so that email conversations are not only convenient means of communication but often preferred over more time consuming ways of correspondence. Though email began as a more casual way of contact, students now need to remember the importance of upholding a professional attitude via email, even though their voice is heard only through Times New Roman and viewed on a computer screen.

Whether a student is corresponding with a professor, administrator or employer, the subject line is vital and should be as specific as possible.

“I love it when someone uses a good subject line because when it is too general, it doesn’t tell me anything about the email,” said Susan Curtis, lecturer in Business.

Subject lines should be updated as a chain of emails jumps from topic to topic and should include a student’s name and a few searchable words.

Then comes the actual message. Beginning an email to a professor or potential employer can be confusing, as the level of professionalism may not always be known.

The key to avoiding looking unprofessional is to always start a conversation as formally as possible, said Jeremy Robinett, an assistant professor in Recreation, Sports and Tourism.

“If you’re overly formal with someone in the first contact, you’re always safe,” he said.

Students should always begin formally and let their authoritative figures dictate how professional the conversation will be.

Marianna DiVietro, assistant director of Student Outreach at the Career Center, explained that the greeting in a professional email should always end with a colon. If an employer is being

addressed, students should start with “Dear” or “Hello,” and in no case is “Hey” appropriate.

The greeting of an email can be confusing as students might not always be sure who will be responding to the message. When contacting a corporation, students should do their best to research the title of whom they might be contacting.

DiVietro encourages students to build relationships with professionals whenever possible. When emailing potential employers, remind them of your first interaction before you inquire about an internship or job.

If following up on a conversation at a career fair via email, DiVietro suggested starting with something specific that might have been brought up, like a sports game or hobby that a student and employer brought up in conversation.

“Add a little rapport before you ask or demand something,” she said.

Curtis suggested including a small line at the beginning of an email that shows some personality. Instead of delving into the informative content of an email, students should start a correspondence with something that shows courteousness.

If an email is stripped down to the bare minimum, all personality can be lost.

“I think email is horrible for conveying emotion,” Curtis said.

Students should spend an ample amount of time researching a company in order to make the email flow with both professionalism and emotion.

“The more information you have to go off of, the better your conversation will be,” DiVietro said.

After writing a specific subject line and beginning an email with a professional opening, the content of the email can come through. It is important that requests and inquiries are made with absolute professional etiquette.

Robinett recommended that students have an etiquette guide bookmarked on their web browser for easy reference. Find an etiquette guide that is easy to understand and refer to it whenever necessary.

“There are certain guidelines that should be followed, and if you don’t know something, ask someone,” Robinett said.

The content of your email should always be finished off with an appropriate closing. This is important because an email might be printed out and referenced by a professor or employer. In this case, a student’s name should be at the bottom so can be easily found and recognized.

Many emailing systems allow users to set a closing block to repeat at the end of each email.

“A tastefully done signature block can be really nice because it lets people know what you’re involved in and what year you are,” Robinett said.

It is important that a signature block for a professional email is kept very formal. Though some people find it fun to add a quote or emoticon after their name, this should be reserved for only personal emails.

While students might understand the importance of being grammatically and professionally conscious, it is also necessary to remember that emails should never be sent in the midst of emotion.

“No matter how much you feel you should tell your professor your thoughts at three o’clock in the morning, you shouldn’t,” Robinett said.

Students should sleep off the emotion and liquid courage in order to avoid embarrassment. Once an email is sent, it cannot be taken back.

_Becky can be reached at [email protected]_