Email best practices for small business and professionals

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I’m an email bigot. I judge you by your email. Unfortunately, so do your clients. And other professionals. If your email practices are anything but professional, it is hurting you.

There are also some practical applications for setting up and using email effectively. Here is a short list of email best practices for small business and professionals:

  1. Work email (your fiirm). Use your work email only for official firm business, where you are required to do so. Use your own (professional) email for everything else, i.e., marketing. If you leave the firm, you lose your email address and all the contacts that go with it. The same goes for your email subscriptions.
  2. AOL/Gmail/Hotmail/Outlook, et. al. These aren’t appropriate for business or professionals. Don’t use your ISP, either. I have an email through my cable provider but I never use it. Not only does it sound unprofessional, if I ever change cable companies, I have to notify everyone of the change. Get your own domain name, you@yourname.com. You can still use gmail, et. al, as I do, and simply forward your professional email to your gmail or hotmail or outlook.com account.
  3. Your name. Use your name, either first or first and last, @ yourdomain.com. Don’t use anything cutesy (i.e., bighunklawyer@domain.com). That’s fine for personal email, but not for work.
  4. “From”. Set up your email so that your name appears in the “From” portion. There’s nothing worse than getting an email from someone who doesn’t identify themselves. And use your name, not your firm’s name. Firms don’t write emails, people do.
  5. Email signature. Make sure you put your name and contact information at the bottom of every email. Include your website. You don’t need anything fancy, but do show people how to connect with you and find out more about what you do.
  6. Disclaimers and disclosures. Keep these to a minimum. In fact, if you aren’t required to use them, don’t. They are off-putting and annoying. They make you look distrustful and boring. Nobody actually reads them. They probably don’t protect you. You’re killing electronic trees.
  7. Formatting. Don’t write emails that extend across the entire “page”. They are harder to read. Put a return after approximately 72 characters (mono). DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. In fact, keep your emails short.
  8. Subject. The most important part of the email because if you don’t get people to open your email, it doesn’t matter what you say. Say something that lets the recipient know that there is something of value or interest inside.

I write about this subject periodically because I continue to see emails from professionals who don’t follow these simple basic principles. If you write to me, don’t tell me your name, and your email is booboo2785@aol.com, you can’t expect me to treat you seriously. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Here’s a good article on how to change your email address without messing things up.

Here’s a great way to get referrals quickly.

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