If you’re like most people, you may wonder if you really need to read this article on email tips for busy professionals.
After all, many digital natives sent their first email back in elementary school, while old pros can probably still remember those free AOL CDs that came in the mail.
But while everyone uses email, not all of us do it as well as we’d like.
Email is our go-to tool for communication. We write emails hoping for a suitable reply — a clear answer from the boss, a sign-off from a client, a booking with a new prospect — making it especially frustrating when our emails are misunderstood or ignored.
That’s where this list of email tips for busy professionals comes into to play.
At Amitree, we’re all about helping professionals new and old save time and get more done. Try out these 17 business email tips and tricks to look sharp, get faster replies and stand out from the rest of the inbox.
1. Write With a Specific Goal in Mind
Email with purpose. Don’t start writing an email until you know why you’re writing it.
Whether your goal is to get your email read, get a reply, or get help with some type of work project, the more focused you are, the better.
And simple is best. If you find yourself covering more than a couple topics or asking different questions to each of your recipients, you’ve lost focus. Consider breaking these trains of thought down into their own separate emails.
2. Think About Their Perspective
When someone gets your email, you want them to feel motivated to open it, read it and write back. But an email that seems too negative won’t be very motivating.
The reader may misinterpret your intentions, ignoring your message or waiting to write back until they think you’ll be in a better mood.
Since your words are all a reader has to go on, make sure your positivity and good intentions comes across to them loud and clear.
3. Set the Right Tone
Emails can be formal or informal, and sometimes it can be hard to know how to set the right tone.
It’s smart to take a more formal tone with senior managers, officials, and important clients — unless you know them very well. However, it can be just as important to take a more familiar tone with the teammates you see every day.
The choice depends a lot on the connection you have with the person your emailing. The only real mistake is not to take tone into consideration at all.
4. Know the Recipe for a Good Email
Every email needs the right ingredients to be a success:
- A subject line
- A greeting
- An email body
- A closing
This is the basic recipe for a proper business email, with each element serving a purpose.
The subject line will always be the first thing your reader sees. It’s what grabs their attention. The greeting and closing make an email feel personal and familiar. The email body is where you communicate information or ask questions. It’s a pretty basic recipe for success if you follow it.
5. Grab Attention With Your Subject Line
One of the most important business email tips to know? Don’t skip the subject line.
The subject line is your opportunity to grab the reader’s attention. Since it’s the first thing a reader sees in a message notification, make sure it gives them a reason to open the email, with some idea about the context and content of the email body.
Avoid leaving the subject line blank, even in informal writing, since it makes it harder to find past messages and crucial information.
6. Pick the Right Greeting
People remember first impressions, especially when you are addressing them directly.
The email greeting you open with may be short — “Hello Jane” or “Hi there” — but it is important.
The wrong greeting, whether it’s too formal, informal, personal or impersonal, can start things off on the wrong foot, making it harder to communicate.
Get to Inbox 0!
Built for busy professionals!
7. Pay Attention to Structure
The majority of professional emails tend to be short, which makes the structure easy. But for longer emails, how you organize the body of the email matters.
Imagine a 2,000-word email that’s all one paragraph, buries important info or switches between topics. This sort of email is likely to lead to communication problems.
A solution is to make your longer emails easy to skim through, using line breaks, topic headings, bullet points and bold or underline to help the most important details stand out.
8. Use Lists and Bullet Points
Organizing the most important content in an email so that it’s goal-oriented and easy to skim often means breaking away from a more formal writing style and creating an outline of what’s most important.
Complex sentences and long paragraphs bury the point too much. Numbered lists and bullet points can help you quickly and clearly get to what’s most important.
Use lists and bullet points when you need to convey a series of:
- Process steps and more
9. Make Questions Stand Out
When you’re just starting out in the professional world, it’s not uncommon to get a reply to your email — but no answer for the question that prompted your email in the first place.
A good rule of thumb is to make any questions in your email stand out so they can’t be missed. Make questions stand out with paragraph breaks, numbers, bullets, underlining or bold type.
If it’s a longer email, you may want to close by saying you’re waiting for their answer to know how to proceed, just to remind them about your question.
10. Make Dates, Times and Locations Stand Out
Another communication problem that can come up involves dates, times and locations. You may get stood up for a meeting by someone who jots down the wrong date and time or goes to the wrong location.
This problem can often be avoided by emphasizing the right info.
If you’re emailing about a meeting, event or class, make sure the date, time and location (or webinar link) are emphasized, listing the info as a separate paragraph, bullet point or bold type.
11. Include a Call-to-Action
A call to action makes your ask or intentions clear. This helps avoid delays caused by people overlooking what they actually need to do based on your email.
Consider these examples:
- Please review the attachment and get back to me.
- Please confirm our meeting for tomorrow.
- Please let me know the answers to these questions.
When you want your email recipient to do something besides read your message and file it away, make it clear with a call to action right at the end of your message.
12. Pick the Right Closing
Like the first impression of your email greeting, the way you close your email can stay with a reader.
Common sign-offs that are perfectly acceptable for professionals include:
- Best wishes
- Take care
- Talk soon
Picking a friendly closing for your email can help build your professional relationships and motivate your reader to reply back more quickly.
13. Include an Email Signature
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to set up a professional email signature for all your email communications.
An email signature can help add an extra degree of professionalism and trust to your first email with a new contact, letting the recipient know your name, organization, job title and contact information for future reference.
14.Grab Attention With a P.S.
With our shorter attention span, a lot of people end up skimming through messages. Nine out of 10 people skip straight to the end and read the postscript.
A P.S. can be useful when you’re writing an email, since you can be sure most people will read it. You can use the very end of your email to emphasize a point, ask a question, request a quick reply or build up a relationship.
15. Check for Errors
Before you hit send, always give your work email one last check for errors.
Excess spelling and grammar mistakes can leave readers with a bad impression, while missing or incorrect information in the message body could lead to embarrassing and costly business errors.
While some mistakes are bound to get through, a quick check of your message content for errors or missing info will greatly improve your email accuracy.
16. Send at the Right Time
Emails are sent at all hours of the day and night, but most people don’t read every message as soon as it comes in.
Most people check email during the work day, in the morning and afternoon. A few may check for important messages after hours, but a response may take a while.
Sending your message at the wrong time, such as 5 p.m. on a Friday, could mean it gets ignored or forgotten about. But it depends on the recipient, so check their schedule.
17. Follow Up
We all hope for a quick reply when we send an email, but with the volume of email most professionals get during a work day, it doesn’t always happen that way.
Sometimes it’s necessary to follow up. For teammates at the same company, sending a follow-up request the same day is usually okay. For less familiar contacts, it’s smart to wait at least 24 hours before following up.
Looking for More Help With Email?
We’re all using email professionally more than ever. And it’s always good to keep improving, whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience.
These email tips for busy professionals can help you write better emails and get a faster reply. But if you’re inbox starts to overflow with mail from teammates and clients, you might need help managing it.
We created Folio as an email add-on to help you quickly organize your messy inbox. Our AI-powered algorithms automatically sort your Gmail or Outlook inbox into workflows that make sense, with smart folders, reminders, and integrations with your favorite tools.
With Folio by Amitree, you can join the more than 150,000 professionals who save 5–10 hours a week managing email. Start your free trial of Folio today and save even more time on your email.
Who we are
We've built Folio: the first AI email assistant for professionals.
Folio plugs directly into your work email inbox and automatically organizes your email, giving you contextual access to all the information you need to increase your productivity in minutes.
We are a team of passionate product people and engineers that gets excited about solving complex processes and creating value for people.
We're a venture funded company backed by Accel Partners, Vertical Venture Partners, and other leading venture capital firms and angel investors such as Ash Patel and Jerry Yang.