The Do’s and Don’ts of E-Meeting

Hello. To begin, let me reassure you: this isn’t some cheesy, contrived list about how to successfully butter-up a new business associate with top-ten tips and buzzwords. I wouldn’t do that to you. This is merely a (hopefully) helpful guide on how to interface with someone you don’t know, when forced to first meet through the impersonal medium we grudgingly mark read as email. As entrepreneurs, we’re put in this position daily. Whether introducing yourself to a potential client or a mutual asset, meeting someone through email is a fact of life in the modern business world. It can be awkward. It can be forced. It can be a disaster, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to make your e-meeting friendly, fluid and concise.

Show Excitement but don’t get familiar.

No one likes opening up the umpteenth drab email of the day. When introducing yourself online, it helps to entice the reader with a genial greeting. There’s nothing wrong with dropping an exclamation point on the end of a sentence. A brief “Good to know you!” never hurt anyone. However, it’s important to draw the line between excited and manic. “I’m excited to work with you!” sounds like a professional and welcoming sign-off, while “We’re gonna crush this!!!” sounds over-dramatic and off-putting. Which brings me to my next point: avoid slang!

You’re not meeting an old friend for a drink or texting your younger brother. No one is “gonna” make the meeting, and the business connection you just attained from a mentor or colleague is not your “bro”. Sure, you want to show comfortability and avoid stiff formality in your introduction. “It’s great to meet you via email and I look forward to speaking in person!” is one thing. “Can’t wait to meet you to really nail this idea down my man” shows an entirely different face. Make sure the voice you’re presenting is cheerful and inviting, while still maintaining professional dignity.

Provide information but don’t overload.

If you’re like me, then you’re up to your neck in emails every day. There’s nothing I hate more than reading an email that provides no information and leaves me needing to respond with more questions than I had to begin with. On the other hand, I don’t need to read about Jan’s cat in an email about SEO. When meeting someone online, it’s important to introduce yourself and provide pertinent background information about yourself and the subject at hand. It is equally important, however, to avoid spewing information at a new acquaintance.

When sharing your background, don’t re-type your resume. Share only the information that the reader needs to know. When discussing a specific business case, don’t overload the reader on the first briefing. If what you’re sharing is complex or sensitive, schedule a meeting or call and share it more intimately. If the information you’re presenting takes up more than a few bullets or a paragraph, attach a file. While it’s important to avoid sending vague emails, it’s also key to send what matters and keep your cards close. Stick to the topic and press send, which leads me to my final point.

Hello, Info, Goodbye.

Keep it concise, people! No one likes a buried lead in their business inbox, and no matter how polite you think you’re being by asking personal questions and seeming to care, the fact of the matter remains: time is money, and long emails annoy people. Introduce yourself briefly and cordially. Provide information that matters. Attach information that’s long-winded. Sign off. Your new business colleague will appreciate your brevity and (hopefully) respond in kind. Wordy emails are the worst, and getting off on that foot does not bode well. Be the sender that readers look forward to hearing from! Keep it short and sweet.

So to recap, here are the do’s and don’ts of e-meeting: show excitement, but don’t get familiar. Provide information, but don’t overload. Say hello, provide info, and say goodbye. Stick to these three keys to e-meeting, and your email relationship with your new business acquaintance will begin with all the positive traits of a personal meeting (minus the sweaty palms of an awkward handshake). I said hello. There’s the info. Goodbye.

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