how to begin your email

As a follow-up to my last post about email etiquette, I started going through my emails to look at the first line or salutation. As an example, by salutation you might write ‘Dear’ when you write a letter or send a card. As emails are short and to the point, they don’t always lend themselves to that of formal greeting.

How do you open your emails?

I’m curious to know how you open your emails to a client and/or a prospective employer? This is a question I struggle with all the time – balancing the business and personal relationships I’ve developed. I’ve used everything from ‘Dear’ to ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening.’

From my experience on the receiving end of emails it seems apparent that fewer people begin these notes with “Dear” or something along those lines. The tone seems to be more informal than I’d prefer to see or be the recipient of in a business setting.

I see ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ most often and these greetings seem a bit too friendly for me. In some cases the ‘Hello’ isn’t followed with my name which is a red flag that this email is SPAM-like.

What about job application emails?

I suspect that job seekers struggle with this question differently than small business owners do. You don’t want to come across the wrong way or insincere but ‘tone’ isn’t easily determined in an email.

Dear, Hey or Hi?

I see the friendly tone in many emails as a function of our busy, digital world. “Dear,” which always looked fine on a business letter or a handwritten note, is increasingly seen as archaic and old-fashioned on a computer screen, smartphone or mobile device.

It also seems that many young professionals are using, “Hey” or even worse text message lingo and emoticons. ‘Hey’ or ‘Hi’ may be fine for friends but, in my opinion, is not appropriate when responding to a professional or business email.

Avoid templates please

Many emails I get are probably from a ‘template’ and they include a greeting like ‘Hi.’ I’d suspect these exact emails were probably sent to hundreds of others besides me with no thought to specific content. If that’s the case, why bother sending it?

Let me know what you think

I don’t think there’s one right or wrong answer as we each have different comfort levels based on our own experiences. I’d be interested in hearing how you feel about this. I realize that the person sending the email (recruiter vs. senior management) will answer this question, differently.

Etiquette should never go out of style, and ‘busy’ shouldn’t be an excuse.

Do you agree?

photo by: thetaxhaven

Kenneth Lang is a social media analyst who has worked with job seekers and small business owners on how to best maximize using LinkedIn for specific goals. He’s worked for large and small companies, most recently as Online Project Management Support for The New York Times in New York City on the International version of the newspaper – The International Herald Tribune.  Kenneth is co-founder of Steps To Success which offers individual and group LinkedIn sessions for business owners.