Cultivating good email netiquette is key to building your business brand

Just because you don’t see someone online does not mean that he or she should be treated with less respect

What is netiquette?

Netiquette or Internet etiquette is the code of behaviour established for communicating on the Internet. Good netiquette is the proper and respectful way of conducting communications in an online environment.

What is the most important principle of netiquette?

Follow your common sense, as well as the moral and social principles that guide you in your face-to-face communication. Remember that applying the golden rule (“Treat people the way you would like to be treated”) works online as well as offline. Just because you don’t see someone online does not mean that he or she should be treated with less respect.

Any examples?

Responding to emails in a timely fashion is one of the keys to good online manners. Interestingly, this simple rule gets neglected by many people. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to respond, make it your personal rule to respond within anywhere from two to 24 hours.

Netiquette don’ts

  • Don’t type in all capital letters or with grossly enlarged fonts for emphasis. This is considered to be the equivalent of shouting or yelling.

  • Don’t misuse the cc: (carbon copy) when emailing. Do all copied people really need to know about the details of your correspondence with others? If not, do not waste their time.

  • Don’t misuse the bcc: (blind carbon copy). The primary purpose of bcc is to send group emails so that those copied cannot see each other’s email addresses.

  • Don’t overreact. Try not to hurt people’s feelings. Think twice before sending an email or before posting. When you’re having an online conversation, it is easy to misinterpret the meaning. For emotionally sensitive issues, it’s best not to even send an email. Get on the phone or meet in person instead.

  • Avoid misusing the “Reply to all” button. Not everyone should receive everyone else’s response.

  • Avoid an overly long email signature. A couple of lines maximum is sufficient. You don’t have to include every social media profile or accomplishment you have ever done.

Netiquette Dos

  • Respond to emails in a timely fashion (as mentioned above).

  • Use a signature at the end of your email or post, but keep it very brief.

  • Respond to people using their names.

  • Keep the tone of your email positive; make it a polite conversation, rather than a formal letter.

  • Focus on one topic per email message. Send separate emails for each different topic.

  • Clearly summarize your message in the subject line.

  • Share with others various online facts, stats and links that are related to your business. The Internet is all about sharing!

  • Pay attention to who you put in the “To” line and cc line when sending group emails. Those in the cc line are not expected to respond, but they may if they want to.

  • Seriously consider whether email is even the appropriate approach. For quick updates, maybe a phone call or a direct message through a social platform is better than email.

  • Don’t expect an instant response; expecting others to have the same priorities as you at all times is not realistic.

  • Use auto-response when you are away on holiday or on the weekend if you don’t expect to be checking and responding to emails.