Raise your hand if you’ve ever forgotten to attach a document, accidentally used “xoxo” at the end of an email or asked five different people to proof read it before hitting send? We have ALL been there.
Writing emails to people you’ve never met can feel very real-world and intimidating, but there’s a super simple formula you can follow to make sure you make that great first impression.
If I had a dollar for every time I spent fifteen minutes or more crafting an email to a lecturer only to get “Ok. Sent from my iPhone.” as a reply, then I’d be rich enough to pay someone to write my emails for me. As annoying as this may be, it’s still worthwhile to put in the time to make sure your email stands out – in a good way.
This easy structure comes in handy whenever you need to send a semi-serious email to a teacher, employer, mentor, or even an online shopping store that messed up your order.
e.g. “Hi Nina,”
If you don’t know their name and it’s a generic email address, a simple “Hello” does the trick. If you do, make sure that you’ve spelled their name correctly and that you’re using the right title (eg. is your lecturer a Dr or a Mrs?).
- Itty bitty intro:
e.g. “Hope you had a lovely weekend” or “So nice to meet you at the ENID Networking event last night”
This can be helpful if you’re getting in touch for the first time as you can help remind them of how you met. If you haven’t met yet, a quick intro about who you are or why you’re emailing helps set up the rest of the email. A friendly tone with plenty of pleases and thank yous is always a good way to start.
- The Point:
e.g. “I was wondering if you’d be free sometime next week for a coffee to chat some more about writing opportunities for ENID”
You should clearly point out the reason for the email within the first few sentences. After that you can go on to give some more context or dazzle them with your brilliance. There should be some sort of action that will take place as a result of the email – this could be meeting up for coffee, finding out more info, or (hopefully) getting the job!
- Sign off:
e.g. “Look forward to hearing from you. Kindest Regards, Alana”
Smoochy sign offs and smileys are reserved for your friends and your mum – not your future boss. Don’t forget to express gratitude or appreciation for their time with a simple “Thank you”. I prefer to end with “Best Regards” or “Kindest” because it sounds much more personable and authentic than “Yours truly” or other conventional email sign offs.
Here are some other things to remember:
Spell Check. Twice.
Beyond the red squiggly lines under words spelled incorrectly, make sure you’ve used full stops, capital letters and the right “their/there/they’re”. Reading it out loud or reading it backwards can help you notice if your language has been too repetitive or if you’ve come off too strong (or too timid).
It’s an email not an essay
Keep it short and snappy. When you read over it, look for places when you can say something in one word rather than a string of adjectives or sounding too wishy washy. If you have so much to say that you don’t think you can narrow it all down into a few succinct paragraphs then maybe this is a conversation better suited for a phone call or face-to-face meeting.
Don’t forget a subject
It’s the little heading that will give the person you’re emailing an idea of what it’s about. Make it clear and descriptive enough that they’ll make reading and answering your email a priority on their to-do list. They don’t have to be too long either – “Coffee Catch Up” or “*Your Name* Internship Application” work just fine and are much better than leaving it blank.
They may not reply within 5 minutes
Keep in mind that the person you’re writing to is probably receiving a bunch of important emails all day every day. If the purpose of the email is time sensitive, then make that nice and clear upfront. If it’s been forever and ever and you still haven’t received a reply, then a polite follow up email just checking in shows that you’re dedicated without coming across as pushy.
When in doubt, sound more formal
Use the same manners as if the conversation was happening in person. You wouldn’t say “Hi lovely!” and cuddle an interviewer who you’ve never met before, so you don’t have to act like besties over email either. Stay profesh (which means using “professional” instead of “profesh”). Usually once they’ve responded, you can match their tone. If they’re casual or relaxed, then feel free to ease up the formalities but always maintain politeness.