This might seem like a completely obvious post, but sadly, it is not obvious enough. I get emails every day from people who want to do business with me, but have no clue that I’m instantly judging them by their signature (or lack, thereof). A signature is hugely important, especially online. You can’t just hand people your business card through email, so the email signature takes the place of a card.
In order to present yourself as being professional, you must include a signature with your emails, and these signatures must have the following elements:
The Proper Elements of a Business Email Signature
- Your Name – Pretty obvious, no?
- Your Professional Title / Position – People need to know where you fall in the scheme of things. Your title or position in a company immediately tells others this.
- Your Company’s Name – Should be as obvious as including your name.
- Your Phone Number – If you’re not willing to include a phone number with an email, then who on earth can take you seriously?
- Your Company’s Website URL – This is a must, especially if you’re corresponding with people working on internet related businesses. The only reason not to have your site’s URL is if you’re hiding something.
- Your Fax Number – While most professional emails contain a fax number, people can do without it.
- Your Email – The recipient of your emails will always have your email address, but by adding it to your sig, you just make it easier for people to find.
- Your Business Address – While it helps to know where someone’s physical presence is, in the current day and age people aren’t using snail mail as often as they used to. Mailing addresses are great to have, but not 100% necessary.
- Alternate Phone Numbers – Having additional ways to contact you is always a plus.
- Social Media Links – These days it has become almost standard to share links to the big 3 social networks (sorry MySpace, I don’t mean you) – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
If you’re trying to do business or create business relationships online, you must post your signature in your emails!
How serious will a potential partner take you if you contact their company in hopes of forging a relationship when you don’t include a signature?
Example of An Unprofessional Email Request
A few days ago I got an email inquiry about advertising on BiggerPockets.com. The person who contacted me, asked me for information about the site’s traffic, wanted to know if I’d give them free time to test their ad, and even asked for a discount in my ad prices. I had never heard from this person before, and they hadn’t told me anything about who they were. Worst of all, their signature contained only 2 elements, their name and phone number. In addition, their email address was a generic one from one of the major internet providers. Clearly, this person did not look very professional to me.
Do you think I gave any information to them?
I had no way to identify her and wasn’t about to send privileged information to just anyone. Had she simply included a proper signature, I might have looked at the email completely differently. As a result, I had to waste my time by sending her an email asking her to identify herself. I immediately judged her as being unprofessional; she now has to work much harder to build up my trust. (Somewhat unrelated sidebar: Asking for ad discounts and free ad time to test her potential spots clued me in to the fact that she is not very professional as well. Who does that? If I had worked with her in the past, I’d have had no issue with the request, but asking on first contact is just bad form. Why would someone assume that you would give them a discount if you don’t even know who they are?)
Are there any other email signature elements that you feel are necessary?