Too often, people forget they're anonymous in the internet world. Your friends and colleagues might know you as being a tireless worker, a great friend and loving parent, but I don't know that. To me, you're just a font. You're a font in an email, or in a forum post. If you give me access to your website, then you're whatever impression the website creates. But largely, you're anonymous. So if you want to establish trust in your internet business dealings, make it your goal to paint a professional image via email.
I'm a copywriter, so I'm constantly combing the web for possible clients and cohorts. Recently I've encountered some internet personalities who have left me scratching my head in puzzlement. Might we have had a fruitful business relationship? I'll never know, because within days of crossing paths, they managed to display one of the "Scary Seven" - that is, the seven quickest ways to scare people away by email. Let's review them now.
Scare Tactic 1. Send an email from a cryptic address. There's nothing that says 'unprofessional' like an email inquiry from "Binky24" or "Shanaynay_7". Email addresses like this strike me as being one of two things: 1. someone young and foolish, or 2. a spammer. I understand if you don't have a website up and running yet; after all, as a writer, many people contact me to help them get their businesses started. But at the very least, reveal your first and last name. Provide contact information, and a brief background. If no one knows who you are, it's not likely they'll do business with you.
Scare Tactic 2. Send an email that contains virtually no information. Yesterday I responded to a post on Craigslist that requested an editor. In my email, I gave my name, contact info, a little background information and directed the potential client to my website. I asked a few questions about their needs. In response, I got one line, and a very uninformative one at that. Do you see why I don't plan to contact this person again?
Scare Tactic 3. Send too many emails! Want to make people think you have absolutely zero going on? Then send someone a barrage of email after having just met. I recently got an onslaught of emails from a potential client - NINE in total, over the course of a day. YIKES! This is a busy world. People don't have time to pore through your information. Organize your thoughts, and send in ONE email- maybe two, max.
Scare Tactic 4. Send emails of a personal nature. Never, EVER send email jokes or personal anecdotes to someone you plan on doing business with over the internet. I don't care how promising the initial phone conversation was or how "friendly" they seem. This behavior screams unprofessional, and can even be a bit disturbing. Many marketers swap information, and this is fine. But it should be done in moderation. There's a fine line between helpful information exchange and email harassment. Don't cross it.
Scare Tactic 6. Send an email that you haven't proofread. We're all in a hurry, it's true. But haste makes waste! If you request information on "barbecue girls," you might just get some unexpected feedback! Double-checking your message can ensure that the recipient can respond properly. Ultimately, you'll get an answer to the question you asked - and not one you didn't.
Scare Tactic 7. Send an email that's either too enthusiastic, or too austere. People are people - and I've encountered personalities from both ends of the spectrum. Those who are "SO EXCITED to make your acquaintance that they CAN'T STOP SHOUTING!!!!!!" and those who apparently are so wrapped up in themselves that they can't spare a courteous hello. My advice: take the middle ground. Keep it friendly yet professional, and don't go to extremes in your correspondence.
Don't want to frighten people away with your email? Then avoid the "Scary Seven!" Above all, discuss the who, what, when, where, how and why of your message, and be sure to include any information that will help your future colleague get to know you better - a website link, some articles you've written, your resume, etc. Don't be overly pushy on email, and avoid over- or under-communicating. In time, you'll get the feel for the type of emails people respond to. And once that happens, you're on your way to cultivating fruitful internet business relationships!
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.