Many IT contractors always keep their smart phone attached to them because the plethora of apps mean they can always be connected to family, friends and work. Among the many apps that keep you connected to work, email is arguably the most important but can also have the greatest failures.
In many ways, email etiquette when sending from your phone is the exact same as when sending from a computer. For example, you will always need to review the tone, use Reply All sparingly or know when it's better to pick up the phone. However, there are also some distinct differences. Here are a few tips for anyone -- IT contractors, job seekers, managers --to consider before sending an email from your phone.
Get to know your email app. There are several mobile email apps available. Whether you're using the native one to your phone or you have another you prefer, get to know it and ensure the settings are configured. How does your name display when you send an email? Is your signature block set-up (and do you want that "Sent from my mobile device" line)? Do you know all of the tools and how to properly format with bullet points and numbering when sending an email? Failing to review these early will result in unprofessional-looking emails.
Keep them short. Sending emails from a phone is more time consuming compared to sending from a computer where you have a full-size keyboard. There's also a higher margin for error. To save yourself time and embarrassment, keep the emails on your phone short. If it needs to be longer, jot down a few points in a draft and complete the email when you're back at a computer.
Don't Be Too Short. Yes, it's best to keep mobile emails succinct, but that doesn't mean you can be lazy. Continue to have a quality subject line and include proper greetings and sign-offs. As well, keep in mind that an email from your phone is NOT a text message. There is no place for emoticons and typical cell phone short-hand. Finally, use subject-only emails sparingly. The email with no body and just a subject that says "Please send Susan that process document" may be efficient for you, but can be perceived negatively by your recipients.
Avoid Long Blocks of Text. Another common flaw that appears in phone-generated emails is the massive brick of text, clearly written by somebody too lazy to hit the enter button. As noted in Tip #1, get to know your app so you can use bullets and line spacing to organize your email in the same way you would from a computer.
Double-Check More Than Usual. While checking spelling is a given because of the nature of writing on a small keyboard and the jokes autocorrect sometimes plays, it's also prudent to take a second look at the recipient you selected and the email account from which you're sending.
Have a Plan for Attachments. Do you have a way to access all of the attachments you may need to include in an email? If you did manage to load the files onto your phone, uploading them to emails uses data. Instead, keep files on a cloud account (iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) that you can access from your phone and only send a link to those files.
Be Careful of Emotions. At this point in your career, you know not to send an email when you're in an emotional state (ie. Angry) because it's too easy to write something you'll regret. Your phone being so readily available will make it even more tempting and easy to send that email... don't fall into the trap!
Check Your Surroundings. It goes without saying that you should never write an email while driving. It's also wise and courteous not to start firing off emails while socializing or meeting with other people. Not only is it rude, but the distractions almost guarantee mistakes will happen.
Decide if It's Necessary. Consider both the urgency and length of your response. If it can wait a few hours or you need to write specific details with attachments not currently available, then wait until you're back at your desk where you can do it properly. Worst case, send a quick reply confirming you received the email, provide a brief answer, and let the sender know you'll respond in more detail later.
Certainly you've been on both the sending and receiving end of a mobile email. If you're like many others, you have mixed emotions about them too. How often do you send emails from your phone? Do you have any stories of mobile emails gone wrong? Please share your experiences in the comments below.