Emails are an important way to connect with others professionally. How we word our emails and what we choose to include and omit leave an impression on our recipients. Emails are usually the first point of contact in the professional world and it’s important to craft good emails that deliver your message in a clear and concise manner.
Here are 7 must-try tips to write professional emails that leave a good first impression:
1. Have a clear and concise subject line
Never leave your subject line blank! Nowadays, our inbox is flooded with emails from different people. Without the right subject, it’s easy for your email to be overlooked. Always include a subject line that clearly conveys the purpose of your writing.
For e.g. if you’re sending in a job application, include a clear subject line such as ‘Application for Position of Assistant Manager.’
This way, the recipient has a clear idea of what your email is about and can forward, file, or process the email accordingly.
If you’re sending your email to a generic department inbox, it can be helpful to draw attention to the recipient's name in the subject line to ensure that the said person notices and reads your email. For e.g. ‘ATTN: Mr. X – Request for Product Quotation.’
2. Start off with a greeting
For professional e-mails, avoid casual greetings such as ‘Hey.’ Instead, use ‘Dear…’ and once you build a rapport with your recipient, you could switch to a less formal ‘Hi…’ When the recipient’s name is known, address them by name with the appropriate salutation (e.g. Mr, Ms).
Once you start emailing back and forth, especially on the same day, you don’t have to include a greeting in each email. Just pick up where you left off as you would with a regular conversation. If you’re hesitant to do this, then follow your recipient’s cue; if they’ve dropped the greetings, then so can you.
If there is a gap of one or two days between replies, then feel free to start off once again with a greeting.
3. Avoid huge chunks of text
Keep your paragraphs short and concise. Open by introducing yourself, if the recipient doesn’t already know you. In the next paragraph, dive into the purpose of your writing. If this is long, break it up into two separate paragraphs.
Lastly, include a call-to-action (this will be further discussed below), say thank you, and sign off.
4. Avoid short forms, SMS language, and typos
Avoid using short forms such as otw, gr8, etc. For formal emails, always spell everything out in full and proofread your email before sending to avoid typos. We get one chance at a first impression, so check before hitting ‘Send.’
5. Ensure that your attachment is included and appropriately named
Nowadays, email providers have upped their game and if you mention the words “Attached below is…” but you haven’t included an attachment, a reminder pops up to include one. Nevertheless, it’s always good to double-check that you’ve included the right attachment and name it accordingly.
For e.g. if you’re attaching an invoice downloaded from your company server and the current file name is ‘inv900006’ consider changing it to something more relevant such as ‘October 2020 Invoice – Company XYZ.’ This makes it easier for the recipient to identify/locate the file later on as well.
6. End with a call-to-action
If you’re writing to elicit a certain response from the recipient, then end with an appropriate call-to-action. Perhaps you’re writing to request more information regarding a particular product or service. In such a case, you can end with, “Please forward us your product brochure or contact me at XXX to discuss this further.”
If the matter is time-sensitive, make that known, so the recipient can act accordingly. For e.g. “Please forward the report to me by 11 am tomorrow as the meeting has been brought forward.”
7. Include a professional email signature
An email signature is what you use to sign off on your emails. It can be customised to include various details such as your name, position, company, and contact details. Keep your email signature within 4 to 5 lines, just include the important details. Too long a signature can result in recipients overlooking it altogether.
In your email signature, you can also include icons that link to your social media pages. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn feature your past work, experience, and is a huge part of your personal brand. Having this as part of your email signature allows others to connect with you through social media and learn more about your work.
Also, you can include a photo in your email signature. This could be a company logo to increase brand awareness. Alternatively, if you’re a freelancer, you could include a professional picture of yourself, so the people and businesses you connect with can associate your name with your face. This helps to add a personal touch to your email.
There are loads of free email signature generators online that you can use to create a clean, professional-looking signature! Recently, I used HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator, and I was pleased with the results. Do give it a try.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re crafting a professional email. Also, never forget the golden rules of communication: Clear, Concise, Courteous!