When you’re running a small startup or even an established brand, you’ll find yourself using high amounts of written interactions. This is true from both the inside and outside of your company. What you’re doing is called business correspondence, and it can play a key role in building your brand image. This is why understanding what it is and how to wield it is incredibly important when building lifelong success.
What Does Correspondence Mean?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the concept of correspondence as the action of exchanging letters or emails between two people. In other words, you are corresponding with someone when you send written information back and forth. An interesting aspect of the definition is how it includes modern forms of communication as well – mainly electronic ones. If before you would have sent a handwritten letter, today that would be a text message or an email. All those would still fall under the same category.
3 Main Types of Correspondence
Business correspondence is actually not the only kind of written communication you can find. You can split the concept of correspondence into three big types based on the main subject matter.
Personal: This involves any written interaction between two people who are not discussing anything work-related. That said, this definition does have a bit of a grey area. If you’re sending a friend an Instagram DM about your latest feedback review with your boss, one could argue that it wouldn’t be considered personal correspondence. Apart from that, this category includes: thank you notes, text messages, emails, voicemails, etc.
Business: From a business point of view, this could be anything from letters and memos to e-mails, fax messages, and even voicemails. As long as the information you’re communicating is related to the business at hand then you’re looking at an example of business communication. You can also find examples of personal business communications in this category. An email between two coworkers, or even employees from different organizations talking about anything business-related would qualify. Any business to business, business to consumer, and employee to employee written interaction would be part of this type.
Official: This would be related to any official communication sent by a governing body. From your local government officials to your boss or company CEO, if it’s coming from a legally superior entity then it’s considered official correspondence. A few examples would be press releases, office memorandums, circular letters, endorsements, and emails.
Correspondence Types in the Workplace
When you’re instant messaging a co-worker, emailing your employee about an upcoming review, or reading over the newest company newsletter you’re taking part in different kinds of written communication forms within the workplace. Below is a more detailed breakdown of what these look like:
- Internal: This makes reference to written communications between departments, employees, units, and branches of one company.
- External: Within this type falls any written interactions between two organizations, or between one organization and its customers. It’s written communication that the company shares with people that don’t belong to it.
- Sales: It includes discussions related to the sale of a service or product and any other sales-related activities. Sales correspondence can consist of: discount letters, marketing letters, invoices, sales reports, sales proposals, order confirmation emails, collection letters, purchase orders, and more.
- Personalized: This type of correspondence involves more emotion-based communication. Even though we call it personalized correspondence, it can still be used for business objectives too. Some examples would be appreciation notes, letters of gratitude, and recommendation letters.
Business Correspondence Best Practices
Best practices will change depending on the industry you’re in. The company’s tone of voice rulebook will also play a big part in the process. Even with that, there are still certain tips and tricks you can use to make sure your business-based writing is the best it can be.
- Always respond: One of the most useful ways to use writing as a business to your advantage is to use it to build trust. Even if you originally provided the wrong information, or you don’t have a concrete resolution to the problem at hand, reply to the conversation. It conveys trustworthiness, which is an invaluable currency in the world of business.
- Proofread, proofread, and proofread: We all know that you can’t change written communication after you send it. So, any typos or grammatical errors will stay front and center. Save yourself the trouble and triple-check what you wrote before sending it out.
- Know your audience: The way you choose to speak to an employee or superior will probably not be the same way you’d speak to a customer. Think about the message you’ll be sending from their point of view. Do they already know the terminology you’re using? What about the main subject at hand? In short, you should look at all these aspects before you consider the message completed.
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