have to express my disbelief at the absolute lack of professionalism that I see
nowadys when it comes to communications. In particular, those sent over
electronic mediums. Narrowing it down even further, I'm referring to email.
While I'm on the subject, I will also throw in social networking as well.
But first email.
I will preface this by saying I am only in my early forties (old by Young
AFCEANs standards, but I still feel young) so I really don't think I'm like the
crotchety old man on the corner most kids think of, but I'm sure before this is
Here's the first point I want to discuss.
Have you ever received a business email from someone you did not know
containing (or not) one or more of the following:
- No subject
- No salutation
- No signature
- No point
Okay, so I threw the last one in for fun (sort of) but it is relevant. It may
be short-sighted of me, but I know for a fact that there are companies of which
I had every intention of doing business with for various products and services
(personal and professional use) which lost the opportunity to get my business
because of an email received from a salesperson or customer service
representative in response to an inquiry I made.
Simply put, there needs to be some basic courtesy maintained in business
This is the response I received from a sales rep at a good company in the
DC/MD/VA region whom I was planning on purchasing secure email services from.
You can see my original email below as well.
The response read:
Call me direct 703.344.XXXX ( I had to remove the number. It's a
From: Guy J. Timberlake
12/2/2007 6:11 PM
MAIL and SECURE Products
Please contact me regarding hosted email services and secure email services.
We are seeking to migrate to an MS Exchange based platform (currently using an
Open Source solution) and will also have Active Sync devices and need web based
features for remote access. We plan to make a decision within ten days. Thank
Guy J. Timberlake,
CEO and Chief Visionary Officer
American Small Business Coalition
- Information, Relationships and
Access for the Government Sector
410.381.7378 - Direct 410.381.2381
Visit us on the web at www.theasbc.org
Board of Governors, Tower Club at Tysons Corner
Not a "hello" or "thanks for considering us" or the rep's name in the email
or anything. If I had sales professionals working for me, actually, if I had
anyone working for me that responded to a customer, potential customer or even a
partner organization in that fashion, I would consult my HR Professional to find
out how I could FIRE them for sheer stupidity. How much effort does it take to
be cordial? Whatever happened to professionalism?
I have no idea how old this person is, but I know this behavior is not only
relegated to the generations younger than mine. I see older folks doing it also.
Why would someone think that a response like this would leave a favorable
impression? Would they care? This person obviously believes that he has all the
business he needs as he never followed up. That's a sales thing.
How about social networking?
Have you used LinkedIn to learn more about a prospect? Maybe to extend an
introduction through someone familiar to both of you?
To all of you folks on LinkedIn and other services that send these poor
excuses for introductions to folks you are trying to impress, what is wrong with
There is no difference (to me) in approaching someone online as it is
in-person. You should be no less formal in a forwarded introduction, than you
would face-to-face with the person at a networking mixer or business meeting.
Once again, everyone is doing it.
I'm sorry to say, but it appears that we have become etiquette
lazy and that is not good.
So if you want to connect with me and initiate it by sending a crappy,
informal email to me directly or through LinkedIn, and you are not one of my
buddies like Buzz or Russo or someone else I've known for twenty years, chugged
beers with, watched your kids, hung out at your house or done something to move
our relationship beyond "Hi, my name is...", please use a little common sense
and common courtesy.
Otherwise, you'll be off my radar like a ship lost in the Bermuda Triangle.
Here's a little something I found on the web:
Electronic Etiquette - Manners for Modern Day
"Voice mail is the death of customer service." Is this phrase as true as
it was five years ago? Apparently not. Electronic E-mails, video conferences,
speakerphones and cellular/portable phones and yes, voice messages - all these
have become common - if not preferred - means of communication in the modern
business world. However, easier and faster does not always mean better or
acceptable, no matter how many people do it. No matter how hi-tech the medium,
because we are ultimately communicating with other people, common sense and
courtesy are still expected.
One down side of E-mail is that it can make an important message seem
informal and unimportant. When E-mailing about work, remember to still maintain
the tone of a business correspondence - keep it businesslike! Other key points
are: always include a subject line, don't use all-uppercase letters (making it
seem you are yelling at the reader), check your grammar and spelling (this
reflects on you, even in e-mail), sign off with your name, company name (if
applicable) and a phone number.
If your E-mail is a reply, even though the subject line will provide a
general reference, include enough information to ensure the recipient can
quickly identify the reply. It is not always necessary to include the entire
original message in your answer.
Do not be upset if you do not receive an answer immediately. People have
other responsibilities besides reading E-mail. If you require an immediate
response, it may be best to simply pick up the telephone and call the person.
And last but not the least, avoid communicating in anger whenever possible.
It's understandably very tempting when speaking to a machine or dashing out a
message on your computer keyboard because you are not face to face with the
other person. A knee-jerk message could cause a great offense. You may wish you
had not left the angry words on someone's voice mail or so quickly sent that
sarcastic e-mail message. The answering machine or computer will not respond to
your angry message - but the recipient probably will. One way to ensure the
appropriateness of your correspondence is to wait a few minutes after typing it
out, and then reading it carefully one more time before sending it.
No matter how sophisticated communication technology becomes, the two
end-users will always be human - the sender and the recipient, the caller and
the person being called, you and the other person or people. Remembering one's
manners is not only polite - in business, it can mean the difference between a
satisfied or dissatisfied customer/client - even failure and success.
Thanks to the folks at AppleOne for having this great information posted on
- The Chief Visionary