The Etiquette Of Business Correspondence

You want to communicate, but which medium should you choose?

Once upon a time, if you wanted to reach out to another personproperly, you put pen to paper. Today, the myriad outreach optionswould make Emily Post shudder. How is the well-manneredbusinessperson to correspond? Try these rules of thumb:

Computer-personalized letters: Instead of "Dear Siror Madam" in mass-mailed letters, use PC-personalized lettersto communicate to large audiences. Make sure spelling, titles andaddresses are correct before you do your mail merge.

E-mail: For hard-to-reach people or for matters thatdon't require an immediate response, e-mail is the preferredmethod of communication. Keep in mind, though, that there are stillpeople who don't check their e-mail regularly. When you doe-mail, avoid language nuances. Teasing and sarcasm tend totranslate poorly-and sometimes offensively. And stay awayfrom spamming--it can get you into hot water with recipients and,perhaps, the law.

Faxes: Legislation is tightening up on unsolicitedbroadcast faxes, so be certain you have the recipient's OKbefore you fax away. And don't fax sensitive information. Younever know who will see a fax as it travels between the fax machineand the recipient's desk.

Online greeting cards: E-greetings can brightensomeone's day, but they're really only appropriate in themost informal situations.

Handwritten notes: Essential for thank-yous, penned notesshould be used to add a warm touch to situations whererelationship-building is key.

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