I hope this blog post finds you well. The reason I’m starting the post this way is that today’s article is all about how to start a professional email.
While starting an email might sound simple enough, professional email introductions are an important consideration that can have a significant impact on your career — and it’s easy to get them wrong if done carelessly.
Email is the primary communication channel of the professional world, and email etiquette is as relevant as ever. Yet, for some, email etiquette seems to have gone by the wayside — perhaps due to the sheer volume of emails that we send/receive on a daily basis.
But, if you’re reading this, it means you already take email-writing somewhat seriously (which is a wise choice)! So, in this article, we’ll be discussing:
- The importance of how you write an email
- How to start a professional email
- Examples of how to start a professional email
Let’s dive in…
The Importance Of How You Write An Email
As humans, we connect and relate to each other through various forms of communication (verbal, non-verbal, and written). Email is, essentially, just a digital form of human communication.
So, what does that imply? It means that the way you write an email is a reflection of the way you communicate. And the way you communicate ultimately affects how you connect with other people — and how they perceive you.
The bottom line is, when it comes to human communication, details matter. Think about how a subtle facial expression or change in vocal tone can alter the vibe of a conversation. Well, the same can be said for written communication (e.g. emails). A single punctuation mark can change the whole tone of your message!
Now, when we take the above concepts and apply them to the professional world, where you’ll be communicating with bosses, coworkers, clients, etc., the importance of mindful email-writing becomes clear.
And, on that note, let’s discuss some best practices for how to start an email…
How To Start A Professional Email
To clarify, a ‘professional email’ in this context includes business email, academic email, and any other instance that calls for some level of formality. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, opt to go the professional route.
The beginning of a professional email can be thought of in 3 parts:
- Pleasantry (optional, generally advisable)
- The reason you’re writing
Below, we’ll break down each of these parts along with some of the most common phrases for each…
Those first two words at the top of a message to address the recipient (i.e. Dear [Name]) are known as a salutation — a.k.a greeting. By far, the most common salutation for professional emails is ‘Hi [Name]’ — it’s the one I’d recommend using. But here’s a list of options to consider:
- Hi [Name], – standard, usually a safe go-to
- Dear [Name], – more formal, which is sometimes preferable
- Hello [Name], – also more formal than ‘Hi’
- [Name], – this is acceptable, but it comes across as curt in my opinion
When you’re sending an email to an alias (e.g. [email protected]) and unsure of the recipient’s name:
- Good Morning,
- Good Afternoon,
- Good Evening,
When you’re sending to multiple people:
- Hi All,
- Hello All,
- Hi Everyone,
- Hello Everyone,
- Hi Team,
Pleasantry (Optional, Generally Advisable)
After the salutation, it’s typical to lead with a pleasantry of some sort. This will help start the email on a positive, courteous note. Here are some common pleasantries for various scenarios:
- I hope all is well.
- I hope you’re doing well.
- I hope this email finds you well.
- I hope you had a great weekend.
- I hope your week is going well.
If you’re writing in response to an email you received:
- Thanks for reaching out.
- Thanks so much for your note.
- Thank you for this info.
- Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
- Thanks for the update.
- Thanks for the quick reply.
If you’re following up after an interaction:
- Thanks so much for meeting with me.
- Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me.
- It was a pleasure meeting with you.
- It was a pleasure speaking with you.
The Reason You’re Writing
So far, we’ve kicked off our professional email with a salutation and a pleasantry; now for the third and final piece: a quick explanation of why you’re writing. You can segue into this with a phrase like…
- I’m writing in regards to…
- The reason I’m writing is…
- I wanted to touch base regarding…
- I wanted to reach out about…
- I’m reaching out about…
- I wanted to follow up on…
- Just checking in on…
If you’re following up on something that was previously discussed:
- As discussed…
- As per our conversation…
- As per our meeting…
- As promised…
How To Start A Professional Email Examples
Now let’s see some of these phrases in action with some examples.
Example #1 (Standard)
I hope your week is going well. I wanted to touch base regarding this week’s sales report.
Example #2 (Formal)
Dear Professor Hobbes,
I hope this email finds you well. I’m writing in regards to the next week’s dissertation schedule.
Example #3 (Team + Follow Up)
I hope you all had a great weekend. As per our meeting last week, here is the revised ebook template for your review.
Professional Email Tips Continued
When it comes to email, we’ve only just gotten started (both literally and figuratively)! There’s so much more to be said on the subject. For more email tips and best practices to help you in your career/job search, be sure to check out the following resources:
- What Is A Professional Email Sign Off?
- How To Write A Follow Up Email
- How To Follow Up On A Job Application
- The Most Effective Post-Interview Thank You Email
- How To Easily Find Anyone’s Email Address (Podcast)