How to start an email professionally
Trying to start an email professionally is no simple task. Starting an email puts you face-to-face with the most difficult part straight away — the introduction. The first few lines of an email can be make or break, so a strong email opening can be pivotal, be it applying for a job or simply emailing a client.
On the flipside, a great opener can endear a recipient to you, or speak volumes in the content of the email itself. It may not be the most straightforward process, but once you’ve locked down the perfect email opener, you’ll be unstoppable. To help you get there, here are our top tips to help you start your email professionally.
How to start an email professionally:
Don’t be afraid to be personal
Being too formal can often be far worse than being too informal (to an extent — never open an email with “Yo!”). If you know someone well or have been keeping regular dialogue, you don’t need to start with “dear” or “to” — in some cases you don’t even need to start an email with anything before getting to the point.
A good way to judge how personal to be is by looking at the other person’s messages. If they’re addressing you by name, do the same to them. In general, if you’ve have no previous interactions with them begin with “Dear”, and as the conversation progresses cut down as appropriate.
Know who you’re addressing
If you’re sending an email to someone and you know their name, use it. It’ll seem more personal, as though you’ve done your research. This includes their first name, too — “To Mr Bond” is nowhere near as affable or endearing as “To James Bond”.
However, if you don’t know their name, stay vague and use something like “Dear Sir/Madam”, or “Dear X team” if it’s to a group or department. You don’t want to presume the gender of the recipient, and this is a vague and simple way of starting your email in a suitably professional way. It’s neutral in its formality too, as opposed to “To whom it may concern” which is nearly always far too formal.
Avoid inappropriate openings
There are a few tried-and-tested openings, like “Dear” or “To”, but a lot of others should be avoided. “Greetings” and “Compliments” are too informal for formal emails, and too formal for informal emails (and rather antiquated). “Hey” or the recipient’s name are both too friendly for any sort of professional email if you’ve not already engaged in dialogue with the person before, and a misspelt name is the quickest way to get your email ignored.
Include a friendly sentence
Starting your email with a friendly sentence is a great way to reinforce the tone of your email, both in terms of formality and how well you know the person.
If you don’t know the person, considering starting with “I hope I find you well” or, if they approached you, “thank you for emailing me”. If you do know them, the world is your oyster — perhaps “I enjoyed meeting you last week”. This’ll instantly make you seem more friendly, as jumping straight to business can seem a little rude (unless you’re deliberately writing a brief email).