Written Communication Tip: Name Etiquette

Whether it’s a letter or an email it can be tough to know what’s appropriate to call someone when addressing them in written form. Obviously in person it’s much easier to clarify without offending them, right when you meet or when you end your conversation. The important thing to remember is: err on the side of too formal. Would it be horrible if you wore heels and everyone around you wore flats to a networking event? No, you’re just a little taller, and you probably have better posture. Anyway, especially with women it can be tough to tell how to address them – men have it easy, with Mr. there’s no qualifier as far as their relationship status or age.

One of the first mistakes people make is which gender a person is. Fortunately, the internet has afforded us the capability to stalk someone via linked in or maybe a company about page, where you can see a photograph or maybe identifying characteristics like being in a sorority in college, or being part of “Women @ X-company”. Be careful with unisex names, especially when communicating with someone for the first time. 

For women, use Ms. if you’re not sure – it’s not offensive in today’s world, unless you’re absolutely certain they’re a Mrs. 

Now about first names. This is a tough one, primarily because industry to industry and region to region you’ll find different levels of formality. Even different income levels. In middle school, I called all of my friends parents by first name. At my private high school it was always Mr. and Mrs. no longer how long I’d known them. Basically, unless they’ve explicitly asked you to call them by their first name, or you know them from a setting where you’d call them by first name, stick with the formalities. Another clue is in how they signed their email (how they address you will typically be your first name after the first time they write to you, since you’re a college student or young adult it’s appropriate). If they signed their full name definitely make sure to call the Mr. or Ms. Even if it is just their first name it can be tricky, but the full name in the signature is typically a big hint, whether or not they’re consciously thinking of it. 

Any other situations I haven’t touched upon, comment below!


LinkedIn: A Fantastic Networking Tool

Colgate Women in Business met during the last week of March to discuss our members profiles on LinkedIn, a prominent job search and colleague connection website primarily used to network. In creating a profile, you can post a resume online, list your education background and work experience, provide a short summary and photograph and connect with potential employers and friends to build a strong networking foundation.  

Once you have a profile with LinkedIn you can build your network by requesting to connect with classmates, previous employers, parents, siblings, friends, etc. LinkedIn will also show you “degrees” of connections too. For example if your sibling shares a connection with someone at NBC, they will be a connection by two degrees of difference. 

Making the right connection is key, however…. Linkedin is not Facebook. CWIB suggests requesting certain connections with potential, whether that be in an industry of interest or an employer with whom you share a common background and unifying attribute, such as Colgate University. The Colgate University group on LinkedIn unites all current students and alumni who participate with this virtual interface. Searching the Colgate group serves as an alternative to ICAN or Navigate because it also lists alumni by career, industry and city. 

A few weeks back, I was browsing through the Colgate University group, specifically of alumni who work in the food and wine industry. I discovered a ’97 alum who owns his own wine distribution and importing company, and I was able to set up a phone conversation with him with just a few clicks. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for exercising the number one piece of advice you’ll hear in Career Services, “Networking”. 

Make sure to update and revamp your LinkedIn profile as needed. It is a fantastic professional and social outlet for finding a job, researching an industry or simply looking for a potential connection that may form a bridge leading to your next opportunity. 




The Beginning

Earlier this year as I was scanning my Facebook, a friend’s event popped up on my news feed. As it turned out, she is a member of Stanford Women in Business, a well-founded organization at Stanford University for undergraduates and graduate students to connect with businesswomen (alumnae or not). Their official mission, “to provide the women of Stanford University an opportunity to build a foundation in business and join an encouraging community of aspiring and successful businesswomen” cites several important issues at undergraduate institutions.

After exploring their website and blog, I found myself wondering why Colgate didn’t already have such an organization. In fact, there’s not even a business club at all. With pre-professional programs in engineering, health, and law, to name a few I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of student-organized business activities. I decided to narrow the spectrum by focusing on women at Colgate. This will allow the group to focus on women’s issues in the workplace, as well as spotlighting alumnae and other businesswomen.

As a junior abroad in France, and soon to be a rising senior, I decided that now was the time to make the leap. I emailed friends and family asking for feedback on my idea, and all I heard was yes, yes, yes. As it turned out, I had discovered a wide gap in student organizations and every female student I spoke to was completely on board. I set the idea on the back burner until earlier this summer I started to reach out to friends again and my dear advisor at Career Services, Teresa Olsen, who fully supports the group’s creation. In fact, she has graciously agreed to be the organization’s staff advisor.

The organization will provide organized business education, networking opportunities, and other related activities. The executive board is comprised of six women, all seniors at Colgate, who will run campus and online activities.

Officers: Carly Keller, Chief Executive Officer (Me)

Jenny Large & Markie Cohen, Co-Chief Operations Officers

Isabel Pluck, Chief Financial Officer

Lindsey Brummer, Chief Marketing Officer

Katie McChesney, Chief Communications Officer

I am thrilled to have such talented and dedicated women working alongside me in this endeavor. This fall semester will be particularly exciting for us as we pursue SGA recognition and attempt to execute all of our grand plans!