• More About Email: Some Unwritten Rules

    email

    I’ve mentioned before how much I love Molly Ford. Her blog is fantastic. It was a pleasant surprise to me to find, in her post for yesterday, that she included a link to an article about some unwritten rules for emails. While I encourage you to check out the link for yourself, I’m including a snippet of it for your benefit. Here’s what The Daily Muse has to say about email:

    1. Your subject line should always be descriptive. “Intro” is not descriptive enough. “Intro: Alex (The Muse) // Jennifer (XYZ Co)” is better.
    2. Keep every email as short as you can; it saves you time and, more importantly, respects the recipient’s time.
    3. The faster you respond, the shorter your response is allowed to be.
    4. Always include one line of context if the recipient isn’t expecting this email. This is as relevant for first-time emails (“This is where we met”) as it is for emails to someone you work with regularly (“This email is about the next phase of that project we’re working on together”).
    5. Put your “ask” or “action items” first in the email, not last, and make them explicit. It should be immediately clear to the recipient what you want.
    6. If there is a deadline, say so. If the request is not urgent, say so.
    7. If you don’t need a response and an email is FYI only, say so.

    Some of these tips should be familiar to you by now. After all, I covered some of them in yesterday’s post. But The Daily Muse include several others that I never really thought about. For the full list, click over to the link in the introduction. And check out Molly’s blog, too, while you’re at it. She’s seriously awesome. If you like either of those links, feel free to send the authors an email. Just make sure that you follow these unwritten rules!

  • How to Write an Email That Gets a Response

    phone

    No matter how many emails you’ve sent, you have a thing or two to learn about writing an effective one. Email writing is something that everyone needs to learn, regardless of their age. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that few people are teaching. When composing an email, the best way to get a response is to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. By following some simple guidelines, you can learn to write an email that gets a response.

    First of all, is the email necessary? If you have a question, is the answer something that you could easily Google? If the answer is yes, don’t bother writing the email. People are busy. If you insist on demanding a fraction of their valuable time, make it count for something. Time is precious. Any time the person spends on you is something that they can’t get back.

    Next, start your email off with a nice salutation. Don’t overthink this part. Use, “Dear ______” for a formal request and “Hi _____” for an informal one. Also, research the person’s title so that you can show them even more respect.

    Address the email to a specific person, and make sure that the name is spelled correctly. “Dear Sir or Madam” works, but it won’t endear you to anyone, especially if you’re writing to a person in particular. Once you have a name, be certain that it’s spelled right. Nothing ruins someone’s mood like seeing their name misspelled.

    Engage in a little small talk before getting down to business. You want to build a rapport with the recipient so that they feel inclined to respond to your email. Compliment the person, but be honest. You don’t want to come across as fake. Tell the other person how you found out about them, why you respect them, and what you have in common. Once you’ve paved the way with pleasantries, you can tell them why you’re writing.

    When in doubt, keep it short and simple. No one likes long emails. No one has the time to read them.

    Make your request clear. Don’t beat around the bush. And don’t be vague, either.

    Proofread your email and use spellcheck before sending. Please, oh please.

    Close with a valediction. Try, “Sincerely, ____.”

    Offer something in return. People appreciate quid pro quo.

    If you want to follow up, only follow up once. If the other person doesn’t get back to you, take the hint. Move on to better things. They’re either busy or not interested.

    Email is a vital method of communication in our busy, modern world. Many people write emails without thinking about them. Of course, that means their emails often get ignored. Armed with these tips, you can craft an email that is sure to get a response. Now, go out there and write an email that would make Hemingway weep.

  • How to Keep a Journal

    journal

    Journal writing is one of the easiest and most rewarding methods to improve your writing skill. They’re not just for children anymore. Long gone are the days of “Dear Diary, today I met the boy of my dreams.” In their place is the journal, a simple record of daily life, a snapshot of an individual’s perspective of the world around them.

    A journal is much more rewarding than a diary. It can help you track progress, set goals, and remain motivated.

    You want to keep a journal, darling? Let me tell you how.

    Before you actually record anything, you need to decide which method to use. Will you write down your entries with pen and paper, or will you type your thoughts and concerns into a word processor? Do you want to keep your journal to yourself or share it with the world?

    Popular methods of journaling include pen and paper, typing into a word processor, blogging, tweeting, and even letter writing. If you want to write longhand, you can use a composition book, spiral notebook, sticky notes, or specially-made bound book. If you have your heart set on blogging, there are dozens of platforms and hosting websites to choose from. You should select whichever method you’re most comfortable with.

    Once you’ve decided on a medium, you should figure out a chunk of time to set aside for writing. This time should be treated as sacred. Make sure you can find a quiet space free of distractions where you won’t be disturbed. Ideally, this time should be daily, though it can be weekly or monthly depending on the type of journal that you want to keep.

    There are many different types of journals. You can pick any of these ideas, combine some, or create one of your own. A few different types of journals include dream, career, personal, food, goal, exercise, and task journals. Much like the medium itself, which type of journal you choose to keep should depend on your personal preference.

    Daily journal writing is a fantastic exercise. It keeps your mental muscles fit and limber. Additionally, it’s very rewarding to look back through your entries and see how far you’ve come. A journal can serve as a record of your progress and personal growth. So what are you waiting for? Go get a journal!

  • Guest Post: Lamar Hull from Direct4TV

    110519-N-VA590-457

    Writing tips for student athletes: Applying athletic principles to your writing

    Being a college student athlete is tough. You’ve got to spend long hours practicing and, most importantly, you’ve got to learn to balance your time between school work and your sport. You may be set on continuing your sports career after college, but we all know sometimes things don’t work out as planned, and that’s why your college classwork is especially important. For a college athlete, building good writing skills can be nearly as vital as crafting your athletic ability.

    Fortunately, learning writing skills isn’t as hard as you may think – you can even apply some of the same principles from sports to your writing experience. Whether you’re just trying to do well in school or you want to start writing your own novel, these tips can help make you a better writer.

    Plan

    Just like you’d plan goals for training, you can plan goals for schoolwork. Perhaps you could set a goal for a GPA you want to earn, a grade on a research paper or a word count for your personal writing. If you play on a team at school, you probably have set training and practice times. It’s good to also plan out set times to do work and write every day. If you set time to devote to writing, you’ll get in the groove of sitting down with your computer to write, and it will become a daily habit. And with more planning comes plenty of practice!

    Practice daily

    You’ve probably heard it a million times, but practicing is crucial for improvement. You wouldn’t go a week without training, so don’t go a week without writing. Try to write daily to better yourself and your skill. The more you write, the better you’ll get – just like how running through more basketball or football drills can help you become a better player. Do you play a couple different sports? Try different types of writing, too. Become a well-rounded writer and athlete with plenty of practice!

    Accept criticism and improve on it

    No one is perfect, and you don’t need to try to be. Improvement is a continual process, and you can’t expect to magically become a better writer or athlete. You have to learn to take your criticism gracefully. Don’t let things get you down – whether you don’t play as well as you’d like in a big game or you don’t get the high grade you wanted. It’s important to keep trying and to work hard to keep getting better.

    Even if you’re not a student athlete, you can use these tips to improve your own writing skills. With some hard work, you can become a great writer, too!

    Author: Lamar Hull is a former Davidson College student-athlete who loves to provide advice to college students and college graduates. Lamar currently writes for Direct4tv. You can follow Lamar @lamarhull20 and his youth basketball blog.