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The Rules of Netiquette -- Signature, Please

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Last year, over 107 trillion emails were sent on the public Internet. According to Radicati Group, Inc., a technology market research firm, an average of over 294 billion emails are now being sent every day.

Every morning our routine includes waking up to an overflowing inbox. We have to quickly sift through the emails to decide which ones are relevant to read and respond to. You know the drill. You probably spend an inordinate amount of time instantly deleting emails on a daily basis.

As a matter of email netiquette we know in our digital hearts that there are rules we should abide by.

  • We shouldn't send an email when we are angry with someone or are tired, as you can't take it back once you press the send button.
  • We know we shouldn't hit reply-all to emails that we have received as it's an annoyance and you might be considered a spammer.
  • We know to leave the novel at home and be brief in our correspondence.
  • We know there are times we should pick up the phone instead of living a completely digital life to make a 2-dimensional conversation come alive.
  • We may or may not know that we need to have a signature line at the end of the email.

Although I'm a big fan of Twitter, not every communication fits into 140 characters or less.

Recently I recently spoke to a businessman regarding the Rules of Netiquette, who immediately wanted to share his pet peeve as it relates to email signatures, or lack thereof. "I receive too many emails from people where I don't recognize their email address," he said in frustration. He added, "How can I respond or even remember who they are when I meet so many people every day in business?"

He has a very valid point. It's a common netiquette no-no and often overlooked. Think about it. We proudly post our bio photos on our Facebook profiles and think we're smart and follow up from our business meetings in a timely fashion via email. But what happens when you send an email without a signature? According to the gentleman I met at a recent fundraiser, he's so frustrated with the lack of signatures that he simply won't even respond to the sender who doesn't digitally introduce himself properly. Emails without last names and a company name if it's business correspondence just go to his trash bin.

Receiving an email from Joe12345 at hotmail.com will not identify you as the sender. The recipient won't see your last name, and most certainly won't know or remember the name of your business.

When it comes to email signatures, I believe that less is more. Go ahead an include your logo for branding purposes, as well as your first and last name, title, position, email address, web address, and phone number. If you're a regular on social networking sites, invite people to follow you on Twitter and like you on Facebook.

Sites such as WiseStamp will help the social media savvy take it a step further by creating a custom signature page that can include your last tweets, links to your eBay pages, along with inspirational and love quotes should you be so inclined.

Have you checked your signature lately? Perhaps it's time for a revision.

Julie Spira is a social media strategist and author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. Visit her at NetiquetteExpert.com. Like her at Facebook.com/rulesofnetiquette