Of course it would be an understatement to tell you that I believe in the value of a FULL outgoing signature. In much the same way that I am a Fanantic FENG’er, I am also a fanatic when it comes to the substance and format of outgoing signatures. (Persnickety is another word.)
I try not to beat the drum about what is or is not a FULL outgoing signature more than once or twice a week in our evening newsletter, but that’s just an honorable mention. Tonight, the ENTIRE editorial is on this important topic.
Part of my “evil” plan to have all members of The FENG use an outgoing signature is that I check ALL of them against our membership database. This is how I make sure you are current so that your fellow members can reach you.
My outgoing signature appears in every message I send out (including replies) as follows:
Matthew R. Bud
The Financial Executives Networking Group
32 Gray’s Farm Road
Weston, CT 06883
(203) 227-8965 Office Phone
(203) 820-4667 Cell
(203) 227-8984 Fax
Let me take a moment and point out each feature that I feel is appropriate and required.
Starting at the top, a message should be ended with either “Sincerely,” “Regards,” or whatever you feel is appropriate. (“Fair winds always” is another very popular one, but only among us sailing types.) You then should “sign” it with your “greeting to use.” If your given name is Robert, anyone contacting you should be informed that you prefer Rob, Bob, or Robert. In this way, you won’t be correcting them when they reach you with those ever popular words “Oh, just call me Bob.”
I believe the next line should be your given name as it might appear on your resume or on a check. This is your formal name, and it is sometimes helpful in knowing which John Smith has contacted me. Oh, John C. Smith.
If you aren’t working, a title isn’t appropriate or needed. But, if you are, I always like to see your title because it may be different than what I have in my address book. Often the title I have is one you gave me when you started your current job and you have been promoted. I like to see that.
The next section is your address. I have heard that there are identity theft issues that could make the publication of your address problematic, but I believe that including it makes your outgoing signature look more serious. I use NO abbreviations in addresses except for apartment, for which I find Apt. sufficient. You are welcome to use a few others, but abbreviations make me crazy. (Yes, I am under a doctor’s care for this.) The reason I like addresses is that while I may not recognize your area code, if I see your address, I do know what time zone you are in and I know whether or not to call. With the transportability of cell phone numbers, your phone number isn’t a good indicator anymore of where you are. As I said above, I also check this information in your directory listing.
The next section is your email address. Yes, I know if you have written to me it appears above, but often times the label you have assigned prevents the display of your email address and I like to know that I have it in my address book correctly. For those of you attending the advanced class tonight, let me mention that the same care and attention I suggest for your outgoing signature should be given to your email label in the “from” box. Proper upper casing and lower casing is essential. Please know that for any important messages you send out, it is inappropriate to share an address with your spouse.
I believe email addresses should be upper cased and lower cased for readability. The Internet doesn’t require it, but I think it makes them look more professional. If you have an address with numbers, get a new address, especially if the number is a “1.” You can’t easily tell a “1” from a lower case “L.” If you don’t care that you aren’t hearing from about 1/3 of the folks you write to, you may ignore this last issue.
Phone numbers should be listed in the order you would like them dialed. If you are always away from your office, make it your cell phone. Hardly anyone faxes these days, and if you leave off your fax number, you won’t upset me. Phone numbers should be formatted in some approved style. Traditional: (203) 227-8965, or modern: 203.227.8965, or some variation is fine. Being an accountant, I like numbers to line up. It is for this reason I put my labels on the right. You will note that they are shown with a capital initial letter and with NO abbreviations. (If you have already forgotten, please know that I HATE all abbreviations.)
And item last is on the subject of “pictures” in your outgoing signature instead of text. Please don’t, because you mess me up. Very nice logos or non-text business cards look very nice, but cannot be copied and pasted into the text box I have in my address book. When you do this, I have to manually write your new company or remember it and how to spell it so I can update you. I might also have to print your email. (As you know, this is a waste of paper.)
For those of you new to outgoing signatures, you will find step by step instructions in just about every email system by entering “signature” in the search box under help. It is so easy to do you will wonder why you didn’t do it before. By the way, you need to make sure your automatic outgoing signature isn’t being tagged at the VERY bottom of the entire message. This issue happens to our Gmail users all the time. On replies, the outgoing signature is at the VERY bottom after the earlier message(s). This can be fixed if you check your settings.
Please keep in mind that the beatings (about outgoing signatures) will continue until morale improves.