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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Business Writing: An Essential Part of Your Professional Portfolio

I recently attended an industry meeting where the guest speaker addressed the topic of business writing, specifically emails. As I was listening, I found myself nodding in agreement to most of what she was saying, and also thinking about how often I receive disjointed, unclear and error-prone emails from various contacts.

While these communiqués aren’t to be considered as ‘job applications’ per se, you never know where your correspondence might land. Especially when you are sending an email to a prospective employer and enclosing your résumé. If you don’t spell-check or proofread your writing, even in an email, consider what your writing might be communicating about you as a person. Think about it: Do you really want to convey to a potential business contact that you don’t have attention to detail and are sloppy in your writing? This doesn’t exactly project a professional image, and can impact your job prospects negatively.

Take a minute to do a business correspondence check-up, and review some basics about writing emails:

1) Make sure your subject line clearly communicates what you are contacting the person about
2) Have a salutation, body and closing line- by maintaining good form in your correspondence, you are not only conveying to the reader that you have organized your thoughts, you are also adhering to professional writing standards and care about how you project yourself to others
3) Proofread your email! Gen Y members are particularly horrible about spelling and grammar; my own personal theory is that text messaging to a certain degree is corrupting the written language. Re-read what you write and analyze it: is it clear and typo-free? Spell check is a wonderful invention to help eliminate many common spelling errors

1) Forget to include your contact information at the bottom of your email as a way for the person to reach you
2) Write a five-page essay – keep your communication concise and to the point. Most people skim their emails and get back to the messages that clearly and effectively get the message across first
3) Write in all capital letters, which makes it look like you are SCREAMING!!!
4) Forget that anything you write can be forwarded to others, and this is especially true in the workplace. Assume that everything you write could end up in the hands of someone else, so keep this in mind at all times

By keeping these pointers in mind, you can help build and enhance your professional reputation.

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