Monday, March 17, 2014

Professional Correspondence by Jen Cudmore



The theme for my 5th Blogoversary month (in case you hadn't heard) is Good Friends Old and New. It's a blessing to introduce a newer friend and fellow author at Helping Hands Press, Jen Cudmore.  Jen is the author of numerous books including The Lawmen of Clayton County series and The San Francisco Wedding Planner collection.  She has a lovely and friendly writing style. I like that! :) I suspect she is just as lovely and friendly in person. 

Speaking of lovely, Jen's offered to give away a copy of her ebook, The Whispers of Angels. Check out the details below.

Have you considered the importance of good correspondence habits? Jen has, and shares her thoughts here today.


6 Tips for Professional Correspondence 


By Jen Cudmore


Credibility is often determined by how polished a person's written correspondence is. 


For more than ten years, I’ve worked in the back office of a medical clinic. In that time I’ve seen some very well written letters, emails and policies. I’ve also seen some not-so-good ones. By the way people write, they set a level of professionalism, and thus earn an element of trust over how effectively they can do their job.


For example, I was amazed at the difference in a series of emails I received from two ladies at the state medical board. One wrote in complete sentences and I never saw a typo. The other had either a spelling or grammar error in every sentence. For future questions, I began turning to the first woman for help, certain her professionalism would transfer into every other aspect of her job.


When I have a lot to do, I tend to move quickly. Years ago at work, I used to swiftly type up what I wanted to say and hit 'send', not bothering with the little things like capitalization or punctuation. My manager had a discussion with me about how the person on the receiving end cannot see expressions or hear tone, so it's important to be careful how each sentence is worded. I didn't realize I appeared lazy and unprofessional to my coworkers. They didn't expect much out of my work performance. 


If you want people  to take you seriously, follow these tips when you send any type of correspondence:


1. Know the rules of grammar and spelling. Find a good grammar guide and familiarize yourself with the concepts. Since my manager now handles most of the note-taking during board meetings, the surgeons in my office provided her with a book I'm sure you already know about, The Elements of Style. I told her it was the perfect gift; now she doesn't bother me with so many questions! 

2. Open with a proper greeting. Saying “hey” or “what’s up” is too friendly for business. Use the person’s name whenever possible. In emails, I often omitted a greeting, but this is considered unprofessional. Now I use a greeting of some kind in all my emails, on my day job and my writing correspondence. 


3. Close with a polite salutation and your full contact information. 'Sincerely' seems to be out of fashion. I often see professionals closing with “Thanks,” or “Regards,”. I like to use “Blessings,” at the end most of my emails. The recipient also needs to know your full name and your business title, as well as your phone and social media connections. A logo or brand is also essential so they know exactly who you are. 


4. Proofread before sending. Typos happen to all of us, so review everything! Better yet, get a second opinion. At the office we used to send appeal letters to insurance companies without proofreading, and once I wrote the wrong patient name on a letter. I was mortified when I discovered my mistake! Now we proofread every letter that goes out. 


5. Slow down and take your time. I can't tell you how many times I rushed through a note and ended up with typos. Just the other day I misspelled a word in the subject line of an email, and it was quite embarrassing. I seem to get into all sorts of trouble when I rush. 


6. Sometimes you have to take a break. On bigger projects, walk away and find something else to do for a few minutes. Every time I sent a query about my novel, I got tense and anxious because I wanted to make it perfect. In order to relax, I often stepped away from my desk and took a few deep breaths, or even slept on it. I found when I returned I could focus easier.


You want to leave a positive, professional impression on those reading your correspondence, so be careful what you write! What are some writing techniques you would recommend to someone who wants to establish credibility?

------------------------------------------------------------

Jen grew up on the Columbia River Gorge and currently lives in Alaska with her husband, two children, two boxers, and two cats. Her goal is to write novels that encourage women to look for positive qualities in a life partner, and to foster an environment of real romance, rather than fantasy, as they grow old with their spouse. For more, visit her website at http://www.jencudmore.com/. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. She also contributes to 3 sites: Under the Cover of Prayer, Moms of Faith and Real Christian Wives.


Giveaway Info

What: The Whispers of Angels ebook by Jen Cudmore   

Don't forget, if you don't have an ereader, you can download a free Kindle for PC. This feature allows you to download a free Kindle reading app for your computer and other mobile devices. Click here for details. 

How:
  • You must be a GFC (Google Friend Connect) follower and leave your email address with your comment.
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include links with your comment.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Thursday, March 20, 2014. Winner will be chosen by random.org, notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, March 24, 2014. 


Do you agree with Jen? What do you do to ensure professional correspondence?

Happy writing,

Karen


P.S. The winner of last week's giveaway is Jessica Haight. Congratulations Jess!  Thanks to everyone who entered.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange



47 comments :

  1. I have been embarrassed by failing to do #4 (proofread) on more than one occasion. Lesson learned!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And even then I still manage to miss things! LOL. That's where we give each other grace. I've gotten some strange emails from professional people.

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  2. Thanks Karen for hosting Jen. Her information is timeless and it matters! I lived in Delta Junction, Alaska many years ago at the end of the Alaska Highway. Jen, are you near there? About 100 miles from Fairbanks.

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    Replies
    1. We've lived in Anchorage for 12 years now. But I've driven through Delta Junction a couple times!

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  3. Great tips on professional correspondence. Even if I proofread, sometimes I miss my errors.

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    Replies
    1. So do I! Our eyes and brains are too good sometimes - they correct things for us so we can't even see the error.

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  4. Keith,
    That's happened to me too. I proofread everything I send anymore, even texts! lol :)

    Linda,
    You are welcome! I agree, this is timeless advice. It is indeed a small world, isn't it? :)

    Natalie,
    Jen hits the nail on the head, doesn't she? I miss errors sometimes too. When I submit, I usually have my daughter or critique partner read it first. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  5. Blessings is a great way to end messages.
    When I have to be professional, I do it. Even casual messages shouldn't be riddled with typos though.

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    Replies
    1. That's true. Informal messages can be so hard to read because folks aren't careful how they word things. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  6. Hi there, Jen. Thanks for these great tips. I love ending messages with the word blessings. That word says so much. In this world of so much to do, I forget to slow down. Thanks for this reminder. Even after I proofread, I later discover a mistake or two. Amigo, thanks for having Jen over. Hugs. xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Hi Robyn. Glad your found my tips useful. I often forget to slow down as well!

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  7. These were very good tips, especially about proofreading before hitting the send button. Susan

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  8. We all need to proofread our emails and our other posts on the Internet. I am on a couple of writing lists, both of which are made up of writers.One one, I am not aware of the typos but on the other I see them and wince. Thank you Jen for taking the time to share these points with us, Thank you, Karen for inviting Jen to your blog.

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  9. Alex,
    I agree. It's always good to put our best foot forward. I even proof my texts. :)

    Robyn,
    I knew you'd like Jen! :) Like you, I still miss things after proofreading. But we do the best we can, right? I'm with you on the blessings thing too!

    Marja,
    Yes, they are, but classic, right? :)

    Susan,
    Once in a while I hit send too soon. And then I regret it! :) Writing for a paper like you do, you know how it goes. :)

    Cecelia,
    Glad you enjoyed meeting Jen! :) I think no matter how informal, we need to put our best foor forward.

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  10. It's so nice to meet everyone!
    Thanks for having me visit today, Karen. Glad my tips were helpful to your friends!

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  11. Excellent tips. Thank you for sharing!

    Diana
    www.ManhattanImageandStyle.com / www.MISBoutique.storenvy.com
    New Blog post: [Inspiration] 7 Steps to Conquer Your Closet This Spring
    Previews Blog Post: [Outfit Idea] Craving Spring

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  12. These are great tips. I sometimes regretted mailing something (in earlier days) or hitting send. I realized I should've spent a little more time on my correspondences with people in the business. Mistakes included grammar errors and addressing the letter to the wrong person (when sending out a batch of queries on the same day).

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    1. Ugh, it just makes me sick when I realize I've made a mistake. But I'm sure you learned from your mistakes, right? Slow down and proofread. ;)
      Good luck on your future correspondence!

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  13. This is absolutely true. People judge the intelligence, professionalism, etc., of others by how they communicate.

    This is a good reminder.

    P.S. - Have I mentioned that I don't like "texting" vocabularies outside of actual texting? In FB posts, for instance? I haven't? :D

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    Replies
    1. LOL. I do see a lot of texting shortcuts all over the place. Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Diana,
    I agree, I thought they were too! :)

    Medeia,
    Oh, I've done the same thing! I dislike it and kick myself for days. Lesson learned, right? :)

    Rhonda,
    Yes they do! And yet so many people still don't heed this advice. So u don't like text talk in other places, huh? lol. Me either. Matter of fact, I'm not crazy about it in a text either. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  15. This is great. I actually just sent a professional correspondence. :) I usually let it sit and save it to my drafts before sending it out. Just to make sure when I look at it again it reads well.

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    Replies
    1. That is a great idea, Jennifer! I've done that a time or two.

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  16. I am SO in agreement and wish more people understood how business correspondence reflects on the individual writing it. Great post.

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  17. Nice tips. I think they can be used in all areas especially job interviews. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. True. I didn't think about job interviews. When it comes to credibility, you certainly want to make a good impression no matter what you're doing.

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  18. Jennifer,
    Glad you liked it! I try to let correspondence sit as well. Never hurts to let it rest and look it over again later! :)

    Lisa,
    It really does. So happy you enjoyed the post!:)

    Lilith,
    That's a great point. So much of this translates into other things that we do as writers and individuals. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  19. Hi Karen & Jen -

    Happy Blogoversary, Karen!

    I'm excited to enter the giveaway. I've been impressed with Jen's blog posts and like her style. susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

    God bless,
    Susan :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan! Nice to see you over here. ;)

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  20. What an excellent post! I agree with what Jen had to say. It is amazing how taking a little extra time on a correspondence can make a big difference. I don't like when people email me and they do not start off with a greeting and they skip the closing- it makes the letter seem unimportant. I am sure I still have a type here and there, but when emailing I read and reread what I have written trying to get it just right. :)

    Great post! Wishing Jen the best of luck and Happy Blogoversary, Karen!
    Jess

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  21. Great advice! I am often astonished at the correspondence I receive from "professionals." Of course, I tend to write in a more informal and personable way, but there is definitely a level of decorum that should be respected. I don't think a number of people realize how important their written presence is, especially in this day of easy communication. Seriously, if you can't be bothered to use capital letters, I will view you as a child. Like 3rd grade child. Or ignorant teen.

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  22. Jess,
    So glad you enjoyed the post. I think Jen is right on with her tips and observations. It really does make a difference. Thanks so much! :)

    Crystal,
    I'm with you. I don't think adults should be using all lower case letters except when texting. You are right; there is a level of decorum that will generate respect. Thanks for your thoughts! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  23. Karen, thanks for hosting Jen. I couldn't agree more that we need to be careful about what we type. Yesterday, I rushed to put up a blog post and found 3 typos! I fixed them, but I think the original is still on Goodreads. Lesson learned!

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    1. I'm so grateful that blogs can be edited! I've had to do that many times myself!

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  24. I used to work with professionals who routinely did not use capital letters in emails. Since email has become the primary mode of correspondence in many industries, it should be given the same attention and regard as a physical letter. What professional would send out a physical letter in pure lower case?? They'd seem like a child playing office. Lol.

    Thank you for these quick correspondence tips. Karen, thank you for hosting Jen. Be well, ladies.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Janette! Hope you found the tips helpful.

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  25. Theresa,
    You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. :) Glad you found your typos! We should probably all slow down, right?

    Janette,
    I just can't see not using capitals where you need to, you know? Like you said, it just looks like children read it. Glad you enjoyed meeting Jen! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  26. Great tips! I've actually found that when I'm writing something important, if I can step away and come back to it, I'll find errors I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It's good to look at it with fresh eyes sometimes!

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    Replies
    1. Yes. I need to step away more often! I'm always in a hurry these days.

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  27. Wonderful wisdom from Sue. Thanks for the introduction, Karen. Walking away from an important email and taking a deep breath is great advice! I've had to do this a few times and the times I haven't.... haven't been pretty.
    Have a great weekend, Sue and Karen. :)

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  28. Stephanie,
    Thank you for your thoughts! Jen makes wonderful points, I agree. I also agree that stepping away is a good thing. :)

    Dotti,
    I'm with you; this is great advice! We do well to heed this always, I'm thinking. So glad you stopped over! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  29. Hi Jen and Karen! Jen, your ideas are so 'common sense' when I read them, but I know I have broken these little rules at times. I guess I can be grateful that I am somewhat of a grammar policewoman, so that helps a little!

    What I have seen are incredibly long run-on sentences. Some of those babies run for two and three lines of type. Yikes! Talk about taking a breath.
    Thank you for pointing out the closing word, I had no idea 'Sincerely' was out of step. Certainly using 'Regards' or 'Blessings' would be an easy fix.

    Have a great weekend!
    Ceil

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  30. Great tips. I know that I need to be better about proofreading my emails. I tend to make a lot of typos!

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  31. Thanks for sharing the tips. It is the best I could read early in the morning.

    In btw, Omigod! (Oh, this is how I write 'Oh My God') :D, howsoever, I don't really follow this kind of writing in my official or academic writing. Sometimes, I fear and worry that I might mistakenly write oh my god as Omigod.

    Regards
    Yeshi

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  32. Ceil,
    They are common sense, aren't they? Jen's right on target!

    Andrew,
    Thanks for coming by!

    Yeshi,
    Your comment made me smile - I appreciate your support. :) I suspect your academic writing is just fine.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!