The best ways to start your email professionally
Knowing how to start an email professionally is a critical skill. We've put together these ideas on what to say (and what not to say) in your emails.
14 November 2019 · 8 min read
Whether you’re emailing a colleague or a client, knowing how to start an email professionally is a critical skill. Unprofessional emails stick out like a sore thumb and can damage your reputation. To prevent that from happening, we’ve put together these ideas on what to say (and what not to say) in your emails.
The best ideas for how to start an email professionally
With a manager
Emailing your manager or any other superiors is something that everyone has to do at one point or another. Though it may seem stressful at the moment, knowing what to say is vital. Just as important is saying it quickly, as managers tend to be flooded with emails. Keep your emails professional, respectful, and concise.
It’s the classic way to start an email or letter for a reason. “Dear so-and-so” is a simple, professional, and formal way to greet a superior. Opening your emails with “Dear” is a good idea if you work in a more traditional corporate space.
It’s also one of the better ways to email your manager if you’re emailing them about something serious. “Hey Manager, just letting you know I’m quitting today!” is not going to go over nearly as well as, “Dear Manager, today I’m writing to inform you that I will be leaving the company, etc., etc.”
“Good morning, manager”
If you work in a more laidback setting, try opening your emails with something like, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,.” This is a more casual approach and works better for daily emails.
Using a relaxed email opening is also great for addressing a direct superior rather than a higher-up superior. If you talk to this person regularly, “Good morning,” is the way to go, but if this is your boss’s boss, you might want to stick with “Dear Boss”.
“Checking in on that thing we talked about”
If you’re following up with a superior on something you discussed in a meeting, phone call, or the previous email, state that in your opening! Managers are some of the busiest people in the office, and they go through hundreds of emails a day.
Stating your reason for emailing upfront will let them know that your email is essential, what it’s about, and that you are working on the last topic the two of you discussed. It’s also helpful for reminding your boss about something they may have forgotten while remaining respectful.
“I have a few suggestions for this thing”
With this idea for how to start an email, you replace “this thing,” with something ongoing in the company. For example, if there’s an upcoming business opportunity, you can use it as a chance to offer your expertise on the situation.
Other times that this opener is appropriate is when your boss is bringing on a new hire or when you’d like to initiate a change in your workflow. However you choose to use this opener, it helps show your superiors that you’re taking the initiative, paying attention to your work, and thinking outside of the box.
With a client
When emailing your clients, the key is maintaining positive relations. You never want your emails to feel dull or (even worse) hostile. Avoid both of these by catering to your clients’ needs and using a friendly tone as much as possible.
This is the most straightforward tip for how to start an email, but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s friendly and enthusiastic without being unprofessional. That makes this style of opening an email a popular choice and a good replacement for the more formal “Dear”.
If you’re comfortable with a client, you can try using “Hey client!” instead. Just keep in mind that “Hey,” can come across as unprofessional if you’re not familiar with the client you’re talking to yet. And although we’re suggesting you use “Hi,” with clients, it’s an excellent all-around opener for any of your contacts.
“Thank you for something, client!”
This is another opener where you’ll want to replace “for something,” with something else. For example, if your client has given you feedback on a product, you can open the email with, “Thank you for your feedback, Client!” You can also use this as a way to thank a client for their business, interest in your service, and more.
Opening your emails with “Thank you,” helps build a good relationship with your clientele. It can also take the awkward edge off of specific interactions, like setting up a payment routine.
“How can I make your life easier?”
For clients that you’ve already built a lasting relationship with, you can keep the relationship fresh by asking them if there’s more you could be doing. Not only is this email guaranteed to be read by them, but it sets you up for better interactions in the future.
Using this opener will let you know if you should be doing anything different or extra for your client. Additionally, it’ll let your clients know that they’re more than just another associate. It tells them that you have their needs in mind. Just be sure that you listen to their feedback after asking for it!
“Hi client, sorry about that mistake”
This opener is more situational but still very important for client relations. If you’re performing work for someone, inevitably, you will eventually make a mistake. When this happens, how you handle it will play a significant role in your future client relations.
By responding to feedback quickly, thoughtfully, and humbly, you let your client know that you care about the mistake and aren’t likely to make it again in the future. On the other hand, if you take too long to respond or try defending yourself, you risk pushing the client to find someone else to work with.
With a recruiter
Emailing a recruiter requires accomplishing two things at once. You want your first impression to be both positive and memorable. Using these openers, you’ll be able to achieve each of these goals.
“Hi recruiter, thanks for reaching out!”
If you’re doing something right, you should have recruiters from your field reaching out to you. You don’t have to connect with every one of these recruiters, though it’s a good idea to respond to as many as you can, even if you aren’t presently interested in the position.
Starting an email this way lets the recruiter know right off the bat that you appreciate them contacting you. It also helps show mutual interest, which is a plus. Whether you choose to accept or reject a recruiter reaching out to you, maintain a friendly tone, and be respectful of the time they put into contacting you.
“Hi recruiter, I wanted to follow up on our phone call”
This opener is great for times when you’ve had some previous contact with a recruiter, typically the first real contact. This email will usually be a follow-up to a phone call, though it could be a response to another email.
Regardless of what you are following up on, this is your chance to keep your name at the top of a recruiter’s list and let them know that you’re interested in the position they are offering. You should use this opener within a short window of time following your phone call, as waiting too long will make you seem less interested. You can also use this as an opportunity to ask any questions you forgot about and to address topics that you discussed over the phone.
“Hi recruiter, I just wanted to follow up on my application”
Similar to the previous opener, this is a follow-up email to a recruiter to express your interest in a position. Unlike the former opener, however, it’s not necessary to have had an in-depth discussion about the area yet.
Instead, you can send this email opener after applying or after sending a response to a recruiter’s offer. It’s better to wait to address this kind of opener until a few days after you’ve applied, as you risk bothering them while they’re busy. Make sure the focus of this email is about your interest in the position, and not if the recruiter has read your application.
“Hi recruiter, I saw your job on this website,”
This is a cold-email approach to contacting a recruiter. A cold email is one that you send without a recruiter contacting you first. For example, if you see a job listing on a website, or are interested in working with a particular business, you can use this opener to initiate a conversation with the company.
Though this isn’t as common now that job sites are abundant, it’s a great way to show initiative with a company you have a lot of interest in. Let the person you are emailing know how you found out about them, what position you are interested in, and provide some details on your experience.
How NOT to start a professional email
“Hi, misspelled name!”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rule Number One is to spell the name of the person you are emailing correctly. This goes for managers, clients, recruiters, and everyone in between.
When you misspell someone’s name in an email, it makes it seem like you aren’t giving the person your full attention. Mainly since many people include their name at the end of an email, if you’re not sure how to spell a person’s name, leave it out of the email by opening with “Hi!” or “Hey!”
“To whom it may concern,”
For some unclear reason, this is one of the most common ways that people try to open an email. If you take a second to read it, though, you’ll see that it sounds like a letter from the school principal to your parents. It’s overly formal, stiff, and harmful.
Unless you’re a superior trying to strike fear (or boredom) into your subordinates, avoid opening any of your emails with this line. There’s almost always a better opener available that’s more appropriate and friendly. Try something like, “Hey Team!” if you’re emailing a group of people.
“Dear madame last name,”
“Dear first name,” is about as formal as you should ever get in a professional email unless you know a person prefers to be called by their last name. Throwing in redundant titles, like “madame”, “sir”, “mister”, or “ma’am”, should rarely be done.
Opening an email this way is so excessively formal that it almost comes across as silly. If you’re trying to go for a respectful tone, stick to opening your email with “Dear,” and ending it with “Sincerely,”.
On the opposite end, we have this opener. We probably don’t need to explain why this is the worst way you could open an email, but just in case, we’ve included it.
Using an informal opener is a way to replace formality with friendliness. This opener, however, isn’t professional or particularly friendly. Only use this kind of opener if it’s a part of your brand (i.e., you run a surfboard shop or a tattoo parlor).
We hope these email openers have given you some ideas for how to start your emails!
Using these techniques, you’ll be able to have more professional and friendly communications with others in your work sphere. If you’re looking for an emailing solution that you can integrate into your website, check out our solution right here at B12!