What is so powerful that it could spoil your customer relationships, blemish your reputation, entangle you in a legal battle, or even put you out of work?

Email is that powerful tool. To maintain control over it, you must know the rules of email etiquette.

Email, although a form of written communication, behaves much like verbal communication. Email can be expressed quickly, and a response returned within seconds.

Unlike verbal communication, however, email has no backup messaging system, which is what nonverbal cues provide as a way to help clarify the meaning of your message.

How does this matter? The words you use in composing an email must be intentional, precise, and complete.

At the same time, email is indeed in the family of printed communication. Speed and interactivity make email enticing—but remember that email is also permanent. A traceable record is created. That's a fact.

Electronic Business Identity

Logos and stationery are carefully selected to complement a business brand or identity—imagine sending a business letter without your letterhead and contact information. Since email is used in business situations, it should maintain that standard of presentation: Include your logo, title, and contact information in business emails.

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Kathryn Towner is co-owner of WinCommunication /WinM@il. She has 20 years' experience in sales and marketing; her current business specializes in Internet marketing and permission-based email.