Emails are a key tool in the life of a stay-at-home working mom, but are you putting your best professional image forward with every message you send?
In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen offers five tips on how to improve your emails.
As a stay-at-home working mom, a large portion of my business communications takes place via email. While it certainly helps in maintaining a flexible work schedule, it also means that the bar to setting and maintaining a professional image by email alone is higher, and more crucial, than it is for the career woman building business face to face. Here are five ways to ensure that you portray the image of a respected business woman in all of your emails — even if you're typing them with a baby in your lap!
The workday begins bright and early for stay-at-home working moms, and it's actually a competitive advantage when it comes to increasing the chances your email will be read. According to Baydin, the makers of email plugin Boomerang, most people prefer to read emails before they begin to work, around 5 or 6 am.
Baydin's data also suggests that there are few "hot" words to include and "not" words to omit in email subject lines, to lower the odds of deletion. (The data also indicate that nearly half of a user's inbox gets trashed, and it takes just three seconds for a user to decide.) If you currently use words like: "invite," "social," "join," "confirm" or "assistance" in your email subjects, it's likely to be deleted. Instead, consider terms like "opportunity," "connect" and "apply."
Multi-tasking can have its downside, especially when you forget to respond to an email, because you're pulled in another direction by your children moments after reading it. Despite the email system you're using, take advantage of tools that will organize your inbox, whether it's a priority flag, star, or app. Baydin's data indicates that 77 percent of email users who track messages expect a response within two days. Your home office may be chaotic — but there's no reason to let your email recipients know that!
Email conversations have become so common (the average user gets 147 messages a day), that it's too easy to slip into an informal writing style full of incomplete thoughts, typos and grammatical errors. While you certainly don't need to write emails with the formality of a paper letter, remember that all of your communications contribute to your professional image, including email. Always use spellcheck, and keep the musts of journalistic writing in mind when you craft messages, sticking to who, what, when, where, why and how.
Your email signature should promote you—but keep it simple. Stick to a maximum of four lines, use plain text instead of HTML (which isn't translated equally by all email clients), and reference the complete URL to your website instead of hyperlinks, which don't always transmit. If you want to include a logo, optimize the image by uploading files to your server, using an absolute URL.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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