I am finding often, and not just with recent graduates, that follow up, and phone and email etiquette is sorely lacking with many professionals today. It is a lack of professionalism and courtesy when communications such as following up, thanking others, and scheduling confirmations, cancellations or delays, are not kept a priority.
With younger clients I try and remind them that it is good practice to get into the habit of confirming appointments, following up on meetings and using phone, email and even texting to communicate with others when meetings are scheduled. People will appreciate and remember your professionalism.
Repeated behaviors become habits whether they are good or bad habits. This means lazy or lost communication etiquette can be changed and improved. A check list to see where you stand in professional etiquette includes:
—> Respond to all Communications – Period: It is polite and respectful; will relieve much confusion; and can save you a lot of phone and email tag.
—> Be Considerate: Return emails and phone calls within 24 hours is , by the end of business day is better, and as soon as you can is best.
—> Message Delivered: If you can’t respond the way you need to, send a quick note either in email or text, depending on appropriateness, and let the sender know you received their message and you’ll respond later.
—> Don’t Leave Them Hanging: If you can’t make a scheduled call, let others know through a text or an email. In today’s technical world, there really is no valid excuse to leave someone hanging to wonder if you have forgotten the meeting, if you are delayed, or if there is a problem somewhere.
—> Be Prompt: If you say you are going to call at 3pm, call at 3pm. Not 3:15 or 2:45. Those that you are scheduling time with are busy and have made time in their day for you. If you are working with anyone outside of your state, make sure you confirm the time zone too.
—> Change the Subject Line: Alter the subject line, even just slightly, with each email. That way it can be easily differentiated during a discussion or search. Using 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or updating according to the time sent; whatever works for the conversation.
In an interview, client, or executive scheduling situation; your phone, email, and even texting communications may be the first impression you make. Effective professional etiquette and follow up will be sure to leave the right impression.