“Whatever the job you are asked to do at whatever level, do a good job because your reputation is your resume.” — Madeleine Albright
You’ve worked to make your email clear, and you’ve carefully edited to streamline your writing. But you’ve overlooked what works for a friend or close colleague won’t work in strictly professional correspondence with a distant acquaintance or someone you’ve never met before.
When writing a business email, it is critical to make sure you professionally structure the email.
So let’s learn what to include in your messages, what not to include, and how to close, sign and send your email messages.
What to Include in your Email Message
1- A compelling subject line
The subject line is the first thing your receiver will see in the inbox. This one line determines if they will open your email or not.
Craft a compelling subject line that concisely (shorter than 50 characters) conveys your purpose for writing.
Avoid being vague, be as specific as possible. Evaluate the possibility of using the receiver’s name to make it more catchy.
2- An appropriate greeting
In a professional email, the greeting matters a lot —even if you are writing a very short email.
Pay adequate attention to the greeting as it sets the tone for your entire email and determines the likelihood of getting a positive response.
It may seem odd to address a stranger as “dear” but it’s standard in formal correspondence. Make sure that the greeting is personalized (e.g., Dear John, Dear Ms. Rivera, Dear Eng. Kumar.) Of course, if it’s a colleague, you can use “Hey”, “Hello” or “Hi” and then his/her first name.
If you’re not sure their gender, usually the safer option is to simply put the recipient’s full name (e.g. Dear Cameron Park.)
Pay close attention when writing both the first and last name. You don’t want to start your email off on the wrong foot because you misspelled the recipient’s name, right?
Avoid using the traditional “To Whom It May Concern” as the greeting. Not only is this salutation stiff and formal, but it also shows that you couldn’t be bothered to look up a contact name and address someone specific.
3- Essential and clear information
Keep your email as concise as possible. People tend to skim long emails, so only include essential information of what you want to convey, how the recipient can benefit from it, and what they should do next. Pay attention to communicating more in fewer words.
Optimize the email for skimming by using standard formatting, and bullet points.
Avoid clichés and technical jargon—make it very easy to read.
If a weighty subject requires lengthy discussion, use your message as a way to set up a meeting or discussion, rather than a venue for a dense dissertation on the subject.
4- Always include a closing
The end of your email is as important as the beginning. It should not leave the recipient hanging but tell them what to do next. Once you’ve explained your purpose in detail, summarize everything in one or two sentences as the closing lines for the body.
Keep in mind that it is extremely unprofessional to leave a closing out of an email. That’s true even if you have an email signature.
Choose one that won’t feel out of place. Some of the most reliable options are:
Use your full name, Avoid using just your first name or a nickname, unless you are corresponding with a colleague.
Include your current job title and company, especially if you are corresponding with someone outside of the company. If you’re applying for a job, of course, don’t include your employment information in your signature.
It is always useful to include contact information at the end like as phone number, your LinkedIn profile URL, mailing address, and email address —even though the recipient will already know it.
Bonus Tip: Take a moment to proofread
No one is perfect, and we do tend to make even silly mistakes just when we are tired or work at the last minute.
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