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If you want to climb the lattice, knowing how to communicate professionally is a skill you need to master. It’s all about keeping your emotions under control and understanding boundaries.

Having a Professional Email Address

Your choice of private email address matters. You cannot communicate professionally if your email address is whimsical, funny, inappropriate, or difficult/confusing to type out. Use a combination of your first and last name or initials, plus a number if necessary (and not 420 or 69). 

Just imagine a college admissions officer, a hiring manager, or a recruiter looking at your resume and seeing [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]. Your resume will immediately be dismissed for lack of professionalism.

Having an unprofessional email address will negatively impact your brand. You can have a silly email address, but only use it for joining mailing lists. Never use it for professional communications.

Create a professional-sounding private email address for yourself as soon as possible. There are multiple free options available, and the most commonly used email host is Gmail. Do not use AOL or Yahoo accounts, as those can make you seem out of touch with current technology.

How to Communicate Professionally

You cannot rely on a school account because it won’t last forever. You also shouldn’t rely wholly on your work email account, because there will be times you need to communicate outside of work channels, whether for personal matters or when seeking a new job. Be sure to periodically save all of your contacts to your private email address so you don’t lose them when you graduate or move on to the next job. 

Writing Professional Emails

When writing a professional email, expectations are different. You cannot treat it like a text message. No abbreviations or emojis should be used in a professional email. This is especially true when writing to someone from an older generation.

Address the recipient properly and formally, unless you’re on a first name basis, for example Dr. Johnson, Ms. Kim, Professor Chakraborty, Mr. Williams. 

Use proper grammar and punctuation throughout the email. Write in complete sentences. Do not use too many exclamation points. Tone is difficult to convey in an email, so reread your email carefully to make sure it won’t come across negatively. You should also review for typos.

Be sure to include some form of closing, whether it’s best regards, sincerely, or thank you and provide your contact information in a signature block with your name, email address, and phone number. 

Most importantly, check the “To” field so that you are not accidentally replying all!

Texting Professionally

While texting is not the preferred way to communicate professionally there are some things that need to be communicated quickly and concisely. If you’re going to be late to a meeting or have an emergency need to reschedule, sending a text is probably the best way to get in contact with whoever you’re meeting. Of course, your reason for being late or needing to reschedule last minute should be a good one.

If you meet someone in a networking or work setting and exchange phone numbers, texting is an appropriate way to initiate conversation. Don’t forget to introduce yourself, how you met, and what you would like to discuss, as they may not have you added to their contacts. 

For example, “Hi! This is Aenea. We met at the Young Professionals Event in Charleston. Would love to connect to discuss Lattice Climbers!”

Using emojis and abbreviations in text messages is more appropriate than in an email, but be careful with how many you use and in what context. Proofread your texts for misspellings or errors. You want to stay on brand.

Speaking Professionally in Work Settings

In work settings, you should not use profanity, make inappropriate, obscene, sexist, or racist jokes, or talk about inappropriate subject matter. Work is not the time or place to discuss the raging party you went to over the weekend. Be mindful that every story you share from your personal life will impact your professional brand.

Be friendly and honest so people see you as genuine. Listen and ask questions to show that you have empathy and understanding. Be respectful and polite so that you are viewed as a professional.

Of course, speaking professionally goes beyond the topic of conversation. Your posture, body language, facial expressions, and tone can come across as friendly or hostile. If you are in a difficult situation at work where you are receiving feedback or constructive criticism, you must keep your emotions in line. You should not openly show that you are upset.

For a broader look at being professional, check out the Lattice Climbers blog