With today's fast-paced lifestyles, business people often forget the value of formal communication. With email correspondence, companies are often more and more casual in writing to customers, partners, investors, and the public alike. However, there is value in writing good business letters, which can help establish a company's credibility and professionalism. While this article only covers writing business letters, there are many other aspects to business professionalism which are just as important. You can learn more about these standard methods of communication and presentation by taking online courses in business management.
Writing business letters require a more formal tone than when writing personal correspondence. Remember that you represent your company, and that the person you are writing to is also representing his company. Therefore, the contents of the letter should stand on their own regardless of the person writing or reading it, hence the focus on the professional dealings rather than the personal. Here are a few tips to help improve your business correspondence.
Address the recipient properly. Business correspondence is usually formal, and therefore you have to address the recipient formally. Include his title, position and the name of the company in the heading. Use "Mr." or "Ms." if you are unsure. Ladies are addressed as "Ms." regardless of marital status. The heading might look like this:
Mr. John Doe
President, Acme Corporation
Dear Mr. Doe:
The name after "Dear" would usually be formal also. But if you are writing a close business contact, then the first name would suffice. You can say "Dear John," instead of "Dear Mr. Doe." This is also especially applicable to business partners, or if the person you are writing is considered an equal or peer in the business.
State your reason for writing. When you write business correspondence, go straight to the point. The first sentence or paragraph should make reference to the purpose of your writing. You can say something like this:
I write to you with reference to the order for five boxes of Acme Industrial Strength Disinfectant I placed two weeks ago. I regret to inform you that our office has not yet received the said order, and we would like to follow it up with your sales department.
Be specific with what you need. If you have a proposed solution or if you expect any action to be taken, be sure to include these in the follow-up paragraphs.
We have been a loyal customer for five years. However, we hope to receive our order within the next two days, or we would be forced to rethink our business relationship with Acme, and look for other alternative suppliers of Industrial Strength Disinfectant.
Give the recipient a way to get in touch with you. While your return address is usually included in the envelope (or the email reply-to, if you are sending the message via email), it's a matter of convenience to include contact information where the recipient can get in touch with you directly.
If you wish to provide some clarifications or updates, kindly email me back at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may call us at 555-1212 during business hours.
Then end your correspondence with the usual ending salutations like "Sincerely," or "Best regards," and then your name and signature.
Be formal. Since you are writing on behalf of your company, try to be formal and not too personal when writing business correspondence. If you are writing to someone you know personally, you may include a few lines of personal greetings, depending on the situation (for example, if it's a holiday). Otherwise, stick to the topic and keep it short and simple.
Watch your spelling and grammar. You don't want to come across as incompetent or careless, because this might reflect on your business or your company. Therefore, check and double check your letter for mistakes in spelling and grammar. Word processors usually have built-in spelling and grammar checkers. It only takes a few minutes to run these. But the best way to check is still through human eyes. When unsure of spelling and word usage, check the dictionary. When unsure of proper punctuation use, consult writing handbooks.
Business writing is all about effective communication. Ask a colleague to read a draft of your letter. If he understands your points without difficulty, then you have made a good business letter. You can learn more about business communication with a few online business classes.