A Guide to Writing a Great Professional Email

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As a website owner, I receive a lot of emails. Several factors go into which emails I ignore and which ones warrant a response. These factors are important when it comes to crafting an attention grabbing, professional email. Below, how to write a great professional email that will get a response.

The Title Matters

Your email title matters a lot. It should let the receiver know what you want and possibly what you can offer in return. For example, I’m more likely to respond to emails with statistics in the title. Why? Because it shows something I may be able to share with my readers.

What Do You Want from the Recipient?

Make it clear what you’re hoping to achieve with the email. Do you want a job? A reference? Don’t make people guess what your purpose is – make it clear in the first paragraph of the email (and the title).

What are You Offering the Recipient?

Since you’re likely writing in hopes of receiving something, offer the recipient something else in return. It may be skills and education (as in the case of a cover letter) or expert advice (in the case of promoting a new book). This makes the person reading the email more likely to respond, since there is a give and take involved.

Get to the Point

Don’t bury the lead. Make sure the email is clear and succinct. Use short paragraphs and start with the most important information. Most people will be scanning emails briefly, so you want it to be easy to read and understand with a quick glance.

Make it Personal

Show that you’ve taken the time to research the individual and his or her company. A copy and paste email that you’ve obviously sent out to many others won’t get the same level of response as a more personalized email. You can usually find information on the company website, LinkedIn or a google search.  You don’t have to say a lot, simply addressing them by name and using their company name goes far. In a cover letter, however, you want to make sure you speak a bit about the company and why you’d make a good fit. In less formal emails, talk about something the person has done (a speech, book, or article).

Following Up

Unfortunately, spam detectors aren’t perfect and sometimes important emails end up in the junk mail folder. If you don’t receive a response, it’s fine to follow up once or twice to see if the person received your email. Make sure you mention the subject in the title “Follow up – Job Application for Software Engineer” for example. Don’t be too aggressive with following up and don’t get mad. Sometimes people don’t have the time to respond to every email. Simply move on to the next prospect if possible. If it’s a pressing issue with a current colleague, using another form of communication (face-to-face or by phone) may be necessary.

Email is a convenient but tricky form of communication. You don’t always have to be as formal as you would with traditional mail, but you still need to come across as professional. Use the tips above and you’ll have a much better chance of receiving a positive response.