The ABC’s of Email Etiquette

We’re moving to an age of constant notifications on our televisions, eye glasses, and watches, not to mention the mediation of our daily adventures through live video streams.

As things become more and more digital, the world is seemingly becoming more noisy and impersonal. Am I wrong?

However, it’s never been easier to reach anyone and everyone! So how can one use these tools of instant global access for good? How can one effectively communicate in the digital age?

Well, first, here’s a K.I.S.S.S. Keep it short, simple, and sweet!

Social media rocks my world. However, sometimes an old-fashioned email (or even a handwritten letter) is the most effective way to reach someone and get results. Going back to basics can always help you grow. You’ll find innovation—the freedom within the form.

Follow these ABC’s of email and see what happens!

1. Always be courteous. Start with a warm greeting.


  • Good morning and Happy Monday, _______!
  • Hello, _______! I hope you had an awesome weekend.
  • Hi _______, Ever since I saw/read _______, I’ve wanted to write you.

No need to be obsequious (fancy word for kissing @$$), but you do need to first establish a connection. Relationships come before opportunities! If you proceed with a request, be sure to prime the pump. However, remember that brevity and specificity are part of being courteous in the digital age.

2. Always be clear. In the same way I recommend returning to “why” to grow fans and followers, start your emails with purpose. What do you want this person to do? Try writing this sentence first and composing around it.

Dallas Travers taught me to ask “how” questions. The response will be more helpful feedback than just a plain “No.” These open-ended questions require a more thoughtful response.


  • How open are you to a quick phone call?
  • How possible would it be to get an appointment?
  • How much would it cost to work with you?

Take it a step further and highlight any pertinent information (such as how questions or deadlines) with text treatment.

3. Always be concise. In business, emails are often sent like text messages. Yes. No. Got it. Thanks!

I was in the elevator last week with someone who said he doesn’t reply to any emails that are longer to than two or three sentences!

The truth is that we’re all busy. No one has time to read an epic email or write an equally crafted response.

Duncan Stewart taught me to write like a surgeon. Approaching the task (or the ask) might seem messy and scary! Still, you have to get in and get out as quickly, cleanly, and directly as possible. Go after what you want, but always take impeccable care!

4. Always be credible. If you’re using email as a way to network up, establish trust and credibility.


  • It’s amazing to me that with _______ mutual friends, we haven’t yet crossed paths!
  • _______ recommended I contact you.
  • After working on _______, I realized I had to reach out to you.

Trust and credibility can come from mutual friends, one common relationship, or even one of your credits. You’re not name dropping or “humble-bragging.” You’re simply being transparent and sharing common ground.

5. Always be courageous. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t have the courage to ask. Failure and rejection are better than regret. Go for it, my friend. (Just act like a surgeon!)

6. Always be centered. I’ll conclude by reminding you to write from a calm, collected, and centered place. Private emails are used in court all of the time. Never respond or write an email out of emotion. Save it as a draft and return to the email when you’re back down to zero.

Watch this week’s #TellMeTony video to learn when, how, and why to create a new email account!

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

Tony Howell
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you “design your future”—creating offline success through your online presence.
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