How to Start an Email: The complete guide of do’s and don’ts
Choosing the right salutation for your email messages can be tricky business. In the context of your professional life, you’ll write all kinds of emails. Some of them are formal. Sometimes, you’re writing to a large group of people. At other times, you might not be sure of the recipient’s name. Each email you write offers a unique challenge.
Knowing how to best address people, when they receive hundreds of emails each day, requires finesse. It’s important to start your message in a way that encourages your recipient to keep reading. If you alienate your reader within the first few lines, you may find that your communication doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In fact, your emails might end up in the trash.
Successful people use a small number of friendly, straightforward greetings that work. After considering the situation, they draw from one of their go-to opening lines, choosing the option that’s most likely to elicit a warm response. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of six never-fail introductions.
First, let’s go through some of greetings that you should avoid. These phrases start your email off on the wrong foot.
Greetings to avoid
Dear Sir or Madam
When’s the last time you heard someone say “madam” in real life? Chances are—if you’ve heard the word at all—the situation was extremely formal. Now, think of the context of most of your emails. Reading words on a page already distances you from the reader, compared to speaking over the phone or in person. Add to that the fact that you’re not addressing your reader by name. (Whether it’s true or not, avoiding his or her name indicates that you don’t remember it or haven’t bothered to do your research.) So, when you say “Dear sir or madam,” you sound like a very old-fashioned stranger, someone distant from the reader’s day-to-day life.
Email is instantaneous. The minute you send the email, it shows up in another person’s inbox. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he or she will read it right away. When you include time-sensitive greetings, such as “Happy Friday,” “Happy Monday,” “Good evening,” or “Good afternoon,” there’s no telling when your recipient will read your message. Avoid any sense of discord that might result from a stale opening line.
Dear Hiring Manager
This salutation comes across as overly formal. Calling a person by his or her job title feels impersonal and cold. Unless you’re using an honorific, like Judge Smith or Doctor Jones, leave job titles out of your greetings.
Hey there!!! 🙂
Even for an informal greeting, this is far too casual for a business email. It’s best to avoid emojis and excessive use of exclamation points. Also, the word “hey” rubs some readers the wrong way. Since you don’t want to elicit a negative response, you’re better off avoiding “Hey,” “Hey [name],” and “Hey there.” Of course, if you have close friends at work, this might be an appropriate way to say hello. Still, for most strangers or colleagues, you’ll be better served by making another choice.