How to Start an Email for Professional Correspondence

how to start an emailIn this modern day and age, much of the business world’s correspondence is now done via email. Business letters are all but a thing of the past, and even resumes can be sent via email. However, if you’re going to be sending a professional email, you’re going to need to write it quite a bit differently than you would an email to a friend or even a text message.

If you want to make a good impression before you even meet someone that might be offering you a job or networking leads, make sure your email really shines. Use the tips below, or try an online class to create business emails that show off your best digital side. Try reading this helpful article on email introductions.

The Subject Line Counts Too

Many people don’t know what to write in the subject line when writing a business correspondence. If you’re already working for a business and need to contact someone, you need to write something in the subject that gives them an idea of what the email is for. For example, if you’re contacting the information systems department regarding a computer issue that you or someone in your department is having, you might want to write something like “Urgent: Computer Problem in Human Resources” or whatever department you’re in. You should exclude the “Urgent” if the problem can be done later or tomorrow.

If you’re a job seeker or someone wanting to network, you will still want to consider the subject line as a key part of your email. People rarely open emails with no subject, especially if they don’t know the sender. Did y0u send your resume as an attachment, or are you introducing yourself in the hopes of a job connection? Consider a subject like “Resume Attached for Customer Service Position” or “Interested Candidate for Customer Service Position.” Don’t forget to replace “customer service” with whatever position you’re actually looking at.

Don’t Blather On

Most business correspondence emails are not more than a couple of short paragraphs. If your email is longer than that, you might want to consider sending an email scheduling a meeting with the individual to discuss the issue instead. No one wants to read a 50,000-word email just to find out your problem at the end of the email. Present your problem within the first couple of sentences, and describe the issue in the next paragraph or two. Again, if you need more time or to show the person what exactly is happening, you should send an email to just schedule a meeting.

Use Appropriate Language

“BRB” and “LOL” are great for text messages or friendly emails, but you certainly won’t be making a great impression for any kind of professional correspondence. Consider taking a class in business writing so you know what’s appropriate for professional correspondence and what’s not. A good rule of thumb, however, is to remember that text speak is exactly that – for texting. Also, never send a professional email in all capitals or all lowercase.

Be Polite

No one will respond to an email if you’re being demanding or controlling. If you’re trying to get an issue resolved, don’t show your annoyance about the issue. Just explain the issue and ask what can be done to resolve it. If you’re wanting a job, state your interest in the position, and show off all your good qualities. Don’t forget to toss in a couple of compliments on the business, and try saying something about how excited you would be to work for such a company.

Edit and Proofread Your Email

People hate to receive emails that have grammar errors. They’re difficult to read, and people like me who are huge grammar sticklers will actually feel physically ill just looking at your email. So, be sure to brush up on your grammar skills with an online class so you make a good impression with your online correspondence. You can also take a class on proofreading to make certain your punctuation and capitalization is correct too.

Respond Promptly When You Receive a Response

If you receive a response to your email, be sure to read the response and answer it. If you can’t answer it right away, at least email the person and let them know that you received the email and that you are thinking of a response. For emails in regards to job applications, they might be asking for further documents. Respond, and state that you are locating the documents and will send them as soon as possible. Responding quickly at least lets the person know that you are still interested.

If your email was regarding an issue that you were having, respond to any questions that the person might have posed. If you can’t answer them because you need to show them what exactly is happening, state that in your email and suggest a meeting instead. Be sure to respond quickly, however, because they are likely busy and could forget your question. They likely expect a response from you within twenty-four hours if you’re still having an issue.

End Your Email Appropriately

You might have an inspiring quote or cute image set as your email signature. If you’re sending out business correspondence, you’re going to want to remove that. Instead, set your signature to something far more professional like your full name, email address, a phone number you can be reached at and even a physical address. Consider a secondary email address as well or any social media profiles you have. Inspiring quotes and images are great for unprofessional emails or anonymous forums, but you’re trying to make an impression in the business world.

Know Why You’re Sending the Email

There’s a lot of different reasons to send out business emails. It could be to apply for a job, write a letter of reference for someone who applied, or a formal business correspondence like when creating networking for supplies or inventory. Each of these emails requires a different way of starting them. If you don’t know who will be reading your email, like when sending a resume or letter of reference, you should start it with “To whom it may concern:” and continue from there.

When writing a letter of reference in email, you should state within the first sentence who the reference is for, or even write it in the subject. Otherwise, the person receiving your email is going to have absolutely no idea what the email is for. They will likely delete it if they don’t understand why you’re writing it.

Friendly business emails, like between coworkers checking up on projects or deadlines, can be written using “Dear” and the person’s first name. Like any other business email, the first few sentences should describe what the email is for, or you can even post it in the subject. Here’s an example email sent from one coworker to another reminding him about a part of their project he needs to work on.

To: jsmith@bigcompany.com

From: bjones@bigcompany.com

Subject: Regarding Big Marketing Project

Body: Dear John,

I just wanted to send you a quick note to remind you that we’re still waiting on those sample advertising posters you were getting. Don’t forget our project is due by Friday.

Thanks,

Betty

As you can see from the above example, not only does Betty write something in the subject so John knows what she’s talking about, but she keeps the email short, concise, and straight to the point.

Check Out Sample Business Emails

If you’re truly at a loss for how to start your business emails, you can easily do a quick search online, and find some examples. Check out the English Web‘s helpful starters for business emails, or check out this sample email written to a boss. Sometimes just reading a couple of samples can be enough to give you an idea of what to write for your own.