4 email hacks to make your message stand out

Every day, the average office employee spends 4.1 hours reading, writing and sending emails. That's 20.5 hours a week, over 1,000 hours a year and more than 47,000 hours during the span of a career.

Mastering email etiquette is one of the most valuable skills any worker can have in their arsenal. Here are four hacks that everybody should have at their fingertips:

Be sure to personalize

Personalization is the secret to crafting the perfect email, according to Danny Rubin, email expert and author of "Wait, How Do I Write This Email?"

When your email resonates with the recipient, they are more likely to read it and respond to it. This is especially true for when you are following up after an interview.

"Let's say you want a job at a commercial real estate firm," Rubin explains. "You would want to include a line from your conversation. For instance, 'Thanks for explaining the ins and outs of the new commercial real estate zoning laws here in Cleveland. I appreciate the education!'"

"The key with the follow-up message is to include something the person said in the conversation that stood out to you," he says. "That way, it proves you listened and makes the message stronger than a basic, 'Thanks again!'"

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Reach out within 24 hours

The key to effective email communication is to read and respond as soon as possible. Replying promptly makes the correspondence naturally conversational and allows you to create a strong electronic connection.

For instance, writing a thank you email soon after a networking meeting or an interview allows you capitalize on the conversation you had in person.

Rubin says, "Within 24 hours of your networking meeting, you need to send a thank you email. It's not enough to say 'Thanks so much' when you're in the room with the person."

This is also a golden opportunity to solidify your relationship. "The email cements how much you appreciate the person's time, and also gives you the opportunity to continue the conversation," he says.

Craft specific subject lines

"The secret to a strong networking subject line? First and last names," says Rubin. "When possible, the title of the email must contain the names of people relevant to your message." By flagging who you are and how they know you, you improve your email's chances of getting read, he says.

"When you use a name you have in common, it makes the recipient much more likely to open your email and respond," explains Rubin. "Suddenly, your message is not spam, random or unfamiliar. Because you prove you know people in common or already met once before, you create a level of trust."

For instance, if you are trying to network with someone you have never met before, be sure to explain why they should meet you and what your connection is. Try, "Friend of Roger Mullins, hope to connect over coffee," or "Colleague of Richard Guzman, ideas for your marketing strategy."

Skip the emojis

Body language experts say that smiling can portray confidence and warmth. Online, however, smiley faces could be hurting your career.

In a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers found people read smiley faces as a sign of incompetence.

The study, written by Ella Glikson, Arik Cheshin and Gerben A. van Kleef says, "contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence."

The report explains, "Perceptions of low competence, in turn, undermined information sharing."

The last thing you want is for that smiley face emoji to signal to your coworkers that you're not a strong communicator.

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