I published this post nearly 5 years ago, and these points still hold up today, in a time where electronic communication in business is at an all time high.
1. Have just one email address
Managing multiple email accounts adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to your life and presents a potential obstacle of confusion for those trying to reach you. More than one address is an opportunity for communication breakdown. I limit myself to a single email address for simplicity for my clients, and for me. I direct IM, text, Facebook and LinkedIn Messenger conversations over to this single email address quickly as well.
One point of entry and exit for written communication is my goal.
2. Make it look professional
While there are numerous benefits of having an email address based on your own domain name, it is simply more professional and reassuring to potential clients. In the instance of a mortgage transaction, wouldn’t you be more inclined to deal with firstname.lastname@example.org than email@example.com?
In fact, one of the least professional things is an email address with a yahoo, live, gmail, telus or hotmail suffix. An applicant may be left feeling like they’re emailing deeply personal information and confidential documents to somebody’s home computer on which their children may inadvertently be downloading who knows what spyware.
If you haven’t done so already, register your own domain name and set up a website that will give you your own email address with said domain name.
3. Use a cloud-based service
Pick a cloud-based secure solution for your email, one that allows storage and access to all of your data and documents across all of your devices. You should be able to add a new contact card, send or delete an email from your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop and have your mailboxes instantly sync with each other.
4. Have a professional-looking signature
Create a basic, but complete, email signature for all your correspondence. It is amazing how many Realtors and Brokers end messages with ‘Sent from my iPhone’, or worse, nothing at the end. Do you want to promote Apple products, nothing at all… or yourself?
Have your full name, job title, phone number and website link forming a professional-looking signature for emails sent from any of your devices. I currently have an initial email signature for new threads with a comprehensive email signature that includes a photo, and a simpler photo-free signature with complete data for replies.
5. Put the actual subject in the subject line
Change the subject line of an email every time the content of the conversation changes. This is a key day-to-day email practice to adopt in order to simplify your life. It conveys to the recipient that you are paying attention to the conversation. It also makes it easier to find specific emails a year — or perhaps, 38 months — later when you wish to verify, for instance, that you advised clients of certain policies or procedures like prepayment penalty calculations.
As an example, I title the first email to new clients ‘Client Agreement & Documents List’. They might reply asking a question about mortgage portability. In turn, when I respond, I then change the subject header to “Mortgage Portability” and answer the question.
It works the same with underwriters. If you’re initially emailing about the “Smith file” and in the body of your reply you ask about the Brown file, be certain to change the header to “Brown file.” It catches the eye of the underwriter and it’s easily searchable months or years later.
This is a habit to start forming when communicating with friends, family and current co-workers alike. It is one more way that you are conveying a new level of organization in your life.
6. Save (and back up) all emails
You will also save every single email, forever. My current Outlook contains over 200,000 sent emails and deleted emails. Data storage and memory is cheap, so save your emails on at least two separate memory device(s) and keep them secure, ideally in a safety deposit box.
Email is more than just a medium of communication; it’s instant organization and data storage. For social chats I do occasionally text or use Instagram and Facebook Messenger or other instant communications, but messages between clients and I on these platforms tend to be limited to less than ten words and contain nothing material to a client’s file. Instead I direct clients to either call or check their email for a detailed response to their question.
I want to be able to access a history of the conversation as easily as possible, and I do not want to have to be actively scanning multiple platforms for communications from a client.
With so many avenues to go down these days, the best communication platform is the one you can most effectively access from any device and use to store the complete history of messages. For me, the solution remains email.