When I speak, I talk about a “personal branding secret weapon,” which is your email signature. It’s a secret because even though we all can have an email signature, many of us don’t, or we mess it up. And, it’s a secret because even though people see our signature all the time (or, every time they read our emails), they don’t think “oh, that’s a personal branding ploy!”
I’ve talked and blogged about this a lot over the last few years. You can see some great links below. In this post, I want to boil my thoughts down to help you optimize your email signature. I could critique email signatures and go into more depth, but these are the four things I want you to know. Note that I go into this in my Developing a Killer Personal Brand course on Pluralsight, which you can get for free (and if you watch it, you can get free premium upgrade on JibberJobber). See the short video at the bottom to see how that works.
First, have a clean, clear, usable name. If your name is Robert, but NO ONE calls you Robert, then put Bob. Or Bobby. Or Rob. But if no one calls you Robert, don’t put Robert! Also, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, don’t put your middle initial. Your email signature is not a government contract… put what you want people to call you! Nothing more, nothing less.
Second, have what you might call a tagline, or a value statement. This is a jargon-free, cliche-free line that says what you do, or what value you bring to the table. A job title is not typically the right thing to put here, unless you are comfortable assuming (or, taking upon yourself) that every stereotype that is associated with that title, then you should not use the title. Instead of Product Manager (which can probably be interpreted ten different ways), how about something more simple and to the point, like “I help companies take something from idea to product, and share it with the world.” Okay, that’s kind of lame, but it’s different than a title. Realize that coming up with a short, impactful tagline could take a lot more time than you think… but it’s time well-spent!
Third, have a link, or a call to action. I have at least six websites I *could* point you to. But there is only one I want to point you to, which is JibberJobber.com. This is my business. This is what I do for a living. This is my passion. Every once in a while, I might point you to another site, but it depends on who you are (the audience) and the purpose of the message. Combined with your tagline, this link or call to action invites the reader to take the next step, learn more, etc.
Fourth, consider not having anything else. Every single character or pixel beyond that has the potential to distract from your brand messaging. Don’t put fax numbers or street addresses… don’t put a quote from some smart person from 100 years ago, don’t muddy up your signature with a cute drawing of a turkey, or rainbow colors. Yes, I’ve seen all of these things, and they are all distracting. More is not more. More can discourage people from reading any of your signature.
Here are some links that you might like:
- I Love a Good Email Signature (2009)
- Email signature: Make It Count (2010)
- Email Signature Critique: Julianne Franke (2011)
- Job Search Communication, Email Signature Critique (2012)
Want to watch the Developing a Killer Personal Brand course for free? Watch this video to see how to get access to this, and many more courses. No credit card required.