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EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS

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1 EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Boston College Law School Office of Career Services EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS ETIQUETTE RULES AND A GRAMMAR REVIEW February 28, 2011

2 E-Mail Etiquette What is the role of e-mail in the work force?
When to Use versus a letter Content When is an response necessary?

3 E-Mail Etiquette When to Use E-Mail: Networking Introductions
Applying for Positions Following Up on Applications Responding to Messages

4 E-Mail Etiquette Networking Introductions: What to Include?
Keep the message short Address the recipient professionally: Dear Mr. or Ms. Tailor the to the recipient – avoid language that makes it sound like a mass mailing Do not include your resume as an attachment Ask to set up a time to talk; it is easier for the recipients to spend a few minutes speaking with you than asking them to respond at length by to a series of questions

5 E-Mail Etiquette Networking Introductions: What to Say?
Dear Mr./Ms. Lawyer: Mary Jones suggested that I contact you. I am a second-year student at Boston College Law School with an interest in _____. I would like to learn more about how to get into the field, and Ms. Jones thought you would have some valuable advice. Please let me know if there is a convenient time to talk or if we could meet for coffee. Thank you, (add your name) See Handout with some templates.

6 E-Mail Etiquette Applying for Positions:
Attach a cover letter and a resume Have a short message in the body of the even though your attached cover letter will be more detailed: Dear Mr. /Ms. Lawyer: Please accept my application for the position of _______. Attached please find a copy of my cover letter and my resume. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, (add your name) Include all attachments before you send An attached cover letter will look more professional than just including the txt in the body of the . You have no control as to what font the text will appear on someone else’s computer or Blackberry. And for that reason as well as compatibility, consider using pdf versions instead of word versions. And double check to make sure you have included the attachment. (Attach first?)

7 E-Mail Etiquette Following Up on an Application:
When to Use and When to Call What to say if using Dear Mr./Ms. Lawyer: I am writing to reconfirm my interest in the position of ______. Last Wednesday, I interviewed with ____ and she suggested that I follow-up with you today to check on the status of my application. [or] I applied for the position of _____ in January, and I will next be in California on ____. If you are interested in meeting with me, I would be happy to make myself available at your office at any time during this period. Attached please find another copy of my resume for your convenience. Thank you for your consideration. Very truly yours, (add your name) Sometimes it is better to call to follow up on an application. Assess the situation. can be impersonal. If you have interviewed with them and you know them, a personal call can make more of a connection. If you want to show how eager you are for a position and pitch your case, then phone may be preferred, even though there Is the threat that you fall into voice mail. If most of your communications with the organization have been through , then continue with that mode. And here are some sample messages……

8 E-Mail Etiquette Following Up on an Application: Thank You Notes
When to use ? When to send a letter or a hand-written note? What to say? Something special about a handwritten note or a letter. If it absolutely has to get there fast, then use an (and consider following up with a real letter/note). The thank you has to be perfect—as with all thank you notes, they are writing samples. They need to be perfect. Content Make the note special. Remember if you send something by it can (and may) be shared throughout the organization. So, avoid sending identical s to multiple lawyers at the same organization. If someone goes out of their way to help you, then send a note. If you are writing to a judge, send a formal letter or a note on business stationary, like Crane’s.

9 E-Mail Etiquette Effective Subject Line Messages:
For Informational Interview Requests BC Law Student Seeking Advice (about ___ ) Request for Advice For Attaching an Application Application for Summer Position For Following up on an Application Thank you Checking on the Status of an Application Aim for simple, but descriptive subject line messages. The subject line should not be blank.

10 E-Mail Etiquette When is a response to an e-mail required?
Answer: Almost Always In the legal setting, is the preferred means of communication; it is not merely a tool to disseminate information Examples of situations where a prompt reply is expected: When someone conveys an offer When someone agrees to meet with you When someone tells you about an opportunity or gives you a job lead When someone gives you a work assignment (even if you do not know the answer, you need to respond that you have received the project) Failure to reply may convey disinterest One last slide on etiquette….when to reply….

11 Effective Business Communications
A QUICK GRAMMAR REVIEW

12 E-Mail Grammar Every e-mail message to an employer (or a
potential employer) serves as a writing sample The subject line should be professional The message and the subject line should be free of typographical errors Rules of grammar and punctuation always apply

13 What is a sentence? Contains a subject and a verb
Starts with an upper case letter Ends with proper punctuation Expresses a complete thought USE FULL SENTENCES IN PROFESSIONAL S. NO FRAGMENTS (like this!). People make judgments about you before they meet you based on your writing. Remember the types of sentences you learned in grade school and vary the sentence structure in your ocrrespondence: Simple – contains one main clause. He left. Compound- contains two main clauses- He left and she followed. Complex – contains one main clause and at least one subordinate clause – If he leaves, he will be sorry. Compound- Complex – contains at least two main clauses and at least one subordinate clause. He is leaving because I told him to, but he would like to stay 3. Think about your sentence length and complexity and err on the side of simple, declarative sentences. Your professional correspondence is meant to convey information rather than wax poetic.

14 Grammar Rules Even though is a more informal means of communication than a typed letter, the standards are the same: Check subject and verb tense agreement Avoid common texting abbreviations Avoid grammatical mistakes Follow rules of punctuation The Attorney General is accomplished. The Attorneys General are an accomplished group. 2. Write out “thank you” not THX!

15 Punctuation Reminders
Use double quotation marks to enclose direct quotations. Place commas and periods inside quotation marks Use parentheses to enclose nonessential elements within the sentence Use a dash or dashes to indicate sudden changes in tone or thought and to set off sentence elements Dick said, “Hi, Jane.” Jane said, “Hi to you, Dick.” I am very pleased (if not, relieved) to see you at this program today. The employer called me to ask if we ever taught our students grammar—a most disturbing question.

16 Capitalization Capitalize the first words of sentences, parts of letters, resolutions, and entries in outlines Capitalize proper names, nicknames, official titles, degrees of persons, nobility, and relatives Capitalize titles of written works, songs, newspapers, and films. Not articles within titles Capitalize days of week, months of year, holidays Capitalize names of nations, states, towns, counties etc. Welcome to our program Grandpa, Dean Brown, Marcus Welby, MD , Queen Elizabeth Great Expectations, The Chicago Tribune and Mao’s Last Dancer, Fire and Rain (note that the article in the middle is not capitalized_. Tuesday, March 1 Christmas Allston Montana Libya and Suffolk County

17 Word Choice For professional communications, standard English is appropriate Slang, jargon, and technical language are rarely appropriate Avoid pretentious or biased (sexist, racist) language Use dictionary or thesaurus if uncertain Beware of blindly substituting a word from the thesaurus. Nuanced meanings can detract from your message 1. Try not to insert highly technical language describing your relevant engineering experience. Don’t insert foreign phrases like ‘joie de vivre” or slang like my teenage son’s who say that the bball center was “sick” in last night’s game. When using thesaurus if not sure the word you are choosing is precisely appropriate, look it up in the dictionary. EXAMPLE COLLEAGUE means associate, fellow worker Synonyms: aide, ally, assistant, auxiliary, buddy, chum, co-worker, coadjutor, cohort, collaborator, companion, compatriot, compeer, comrade, confederate, confrere, crony, friend, helper, pal, partner, teammate, workmate

18 E-mail Grammar: Words Commonly Confused
affect (to have an influence on) v. effect (result) accept (to receive) v. except (other than) cite (quote an authority) v. sight (the ability to see) v. site (a place) elicit (to bring out) v. illicit (illegal) its (possessive of it) v. it’s (contraction of it is) principal (most important, head of school) v. principle (basic truth or law) who’s (contraction of who is) v. whose (possessive)

19 Common Pitfalls A pronoun should clearly refer to its antecedent
Spell out numbers under 11 Use a comma before “and” in a series Structure items in a series or bulleted lists similarly; use parallel structure Watch out for wordiness Use active sentences rather than passive ones Place a comma between two independent clauses if separated by “and”, “but”, “or”, “nor” The boat sailed perfectly, despite its damaged hull. Two Eight I ate some apples, oranges, and cherries. Susan ran by a large hyena, an emaciated ostrich and a tall giraffe. Wordiness: Think about sentence length SHORT words MEDIUM words LONG – Beware when they are 19+ Avoid passive voice: Exams are hateful vs. I hate taking exams. I like well written sentences, but I hate learning grammar.

20 Spell Czech in Knot You’re Friend
Spell Check Spell Czech in Knot You’re Friend For any professional writing, do not rely on Spell Check. Proofread carefully or print the message out and edit it on paper before you hit send. Many mistakes are in the message subject line, which are not picked up by Spell Check. So, double check the subject line as it is the first thing that the reader will see.

21 Proofreading Content Verify dates, numbers, and deadlines
Recheck reference points and legal citations Check names and titles Verify that attachments are referenced in text and are indeed attached before sending

22 E-mail Grammar: Some Resources
Book Resources: Strunk & White, The Elements of Style (also on line) The Chicago Manual of Style (online edition is not free) Bryan Garner’s Books, i.e. Garner’s Modern American Usage; Garner on Language and Writing On-line resources: (dictionary and thesaurus)


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