The transition into the professional world can be intimidating. There are higher standards and heavier consequences. Skipping class in college could possibly lower your grade, while skipping a day of work could cost you your position. Likewise, the standard for content creation is held to a higher degree. Anything from your resume and cover letter, to your posts on your personal social media accounts, is under heavy scrutiny from potential employers. But many times, the creation of a quality, introductory email is forgotten. An email is a big part of the initial perception a professional has of you.
So how do you write a successful email?
- It starts with the subject line. Your subject line is the first bit of content that someone will see, and it often determines if they will open it or not. It shouldn’t be long, and should be pertinent to the topic you are discussing in the email. The Muse suggests lines such as “Your Recent [article/story/interview] Blew Me Away” or “Referred by [name] to Discuss [topic].”
- Greeting. “To whom it may concern” is reason enough for anyone to delete your email. It’s impersonal and typical. If you’ve done some research and still don’t know their name, start with “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” “Good Evening” or even “Hello.”
- Introduce yourself. If you’re writing an email to someone for the first time, it’s important to tell him or her who you are. As a college student, many of my emails start out by telling them my year in school, where I go to school, and what my major is. If you met them at an event, remind them of that! They come in contact with a lot of people, and a quick rehash of where you met can bring your conversation to their mind.
- It’s all about the body. I love to break things up into short, get-to-the-point paragraphs. It can be very difficult to obtain and keep the readers attention with long monologues. If you have made it this far into this article without having a distracting thought or stray email/text, you are one of the few! There are exceptions, but if your email is especially long, there’s a good chance that you should pick up the phone and talk to them. The body should start off with an introduction if you’ve never met the person; otherwise, it should begin with your purpose for the email. Include something personal (but not too personal!)- ask them how they’re doing, and tell them a little about what you’re up to.
- Punctuation and spell check. To me, small mistakes make a world of difference. It shows the amount of attentiveness and care that a person put into the email. Always triple check your work before the send-off. Capitalize properly, use correct grammar, and don’t have any run-on sentences. Although I’ve always been a good speller, someone once told me that I was using way too many exclamation points. When I looked back, it was true (!!) It looked childish- don’t be overkill on the punctuation either.
- Wrapping it up. Thank the individual for their time, or for doing whatever you asked of them. That way, you can remind the group or individual of what action they need to take. For example, use something such as “I look forward to meeting with you on January 3rd at 6:00pm for dinner at Panera!” The Muse features a great article on how to sign off an email. My go-to is usually “Best,” or “Thanks.” In your account settings, you will be able to add a signature after your name. Don’t disclose too much, but a work email and phone number, as well as your position and company worked for could be included.
Below is an example email request for a task that I needed to be completed. Below that is an introductory email.
Subject Line: Sales Wins
Dave, (Address them by name, if possible)
In the next day or two, would you be able to give me a sales update on a few recently closed deals, such as TruMarke, ShoesForYou, and Marina Del Fresco? (be specific about what it is that you want) You’ve always done a great job with these, so keep doing what you’re doing! (throwing in a genuine complement is always great)
I am hoping to send these emails biweekly, so expect an email or two more from me.
I thought of you this past week, as I spent it in Orlando, FL with my family on vacation! It was a bit chilly the first few days, but turned out to be so nice! We made a stop at Busch Gardens, Clearwater Beach, and spent quite a bit of time with my grandparents, who live in Orlando. Unfortunately, no lobster sightings. (make it personal)
Hope you’re doing well, Dave.
Subject Line: Referral from Jeremy Trill
Jeremy Trill forwarded me your email regarding connecting about ag/landscaping, and I really appreciate your willingness to do so! (if someone referred you, that should be in the first sentence)
I was a grunt worker at a small landscape business near my house in Middleville for three summers, and once I left, thought nothing of it. After I left, I didn’t realize how much I really loved being outside, and especially learning about plants! With a communications degree and a marketing minor, I would love to get a perspective of what it’s like to be on the other side. (give them some background information if possible)
If there is a time in the next few weeks that you are available to meet, I would be thrilled to chat! My schedule is pretty open on T/TH afternoons- otherwise, I can be flexible.
I’m really looking forward to meeting with you!