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How to Start a Professional Email

We’ve all been there: struggling with how to start an email. Should we use the recipient’s full name and title? Which greeting should I choose? How can I make it not sound too casual or too formal? Should I even worry about this tiny little part of an email?

Different business situations require different approaches. However, there are some general rules that can save you time and energy.

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Aneta Szotek

6 min read

We already know how to give your emails a clear structure. Now, it’s time to take a look at popular email openings and find the ones that are the most appropriate in a business context. Feel free to choose the ones that match your personality and writing style. It’s always a great idea to find a balance between sounding professional and being yourself.

Let’s dive in and learn more about the most popular email greetings.

Greetings in business emails

We all want to seem professional and competent. However, professionalism doesn’t mean only using formal language. The most standard way to start an email is, of course, to use the name of the person you’re addressing your email to.

Dear Mark, (…)
Dear Mr. Jones, (…)

It’s a good idea to start your email neutrally. You simply use the recipient’s first name or their family name with Mr./Ms.

Hi Anna, (…)
Hello Ms. Smith, (…)

Examples of an email greetings.

This is another neutral way of starting an email. It’s less formal than the previous one, but it’s still widely used in the business world.

You can also choose from general greetings:

Good Morning, (…)
Good Afternoon, (…)
Good Evening, (…)

Speaking of general greetings, it’s better to skip the most informal ones: Hey, Howdy, Yo, Heya, etc. They’re not the best choice in a business context, even if your email isn’t entirely written in a formal tone.

Useful expressions when looking for a job

Writing emails to your future employer with a cover letter included is another story. Start the conversation with the recruiter in a professional way. But how do we do that? How should we address a recruiter when sending our resume or CV?

A ticket in a suite with flying documents

Let’s assume you don’t know the name of the email recipient. Here are some useful expressions for this situation.

Dear Recruiter, (…)

This is a fairly neutral greeting for anyone contacting a recruiter when you don’t know the name of that person.

Dear Hiring Team, (…)

This is a good alternative to the first opening. With this phrase, you include more people who are involved in the hiring process.

Dear Hiring Manager, (…)

This one sounds more formal, but it’s still a good choice for a job application email. This email fits well in a corporate environment with a more official company structure.

Hi [company name], (…)
Hi [company name] Team, (…)

I would use this greeting for a company that seems to have a more casual work environment. These greetings underline the fact that you’d like to join the company because you’re addressing the entire team. For example, if a company has strong employer branding with a strong “we’re a tribe” attitude, I’d definitely go with this one.

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How to address a group of people

Addressing one person can be tricky, but what about an entire group? Let’s figure out how to address a group of people, especially when you don’t know them. Here are some examples that are useful in different contexts.

Hello Team, (…)
Hi Team, (…)

Examples of an emaill greetings when writing to a team.

Use this one if you’re joining a team or if you’re creating a new project team. It’s a great way to include everyone who is involved with the project.

Dear X Team, (…)

When you’re not part of the company, try addressing the team in this way.

Hi everyone, (…)

This is a fairly neutral greeting to use whenever there’s an unspecified group of people.

Greetings to avoid

There are some greetings that can make you sound too formal or aren’t specific enough.

To whom it may concern, (…)
Dear Sir or Madam, (…)

In some cases, you may want to sound very formal. In that’s the case, go ahead and use these greetings. However, in any other business context, it’s better to stick to the salutations that are professional but still casual.

Hi there, (…)

This greeting is rather impersonal and generic. Instead, I would go with one of the alternatives presented above.

All, (…)

This email opening seems to be very popular in the corporate world. However, it’s not a bad idea to add an actual greeting and go with something like, “Hi everyone.”

Spelling tips for greetings

Keeping the quality of your writing high is essential. Almost everyone uses Grammarly or other spell checkers, and you should too. Taking the extra time to eliminate typos and check your grammar will make your email easier to read.

Email with suggestions for improvements

Below, you’ll find examples of email openings that may cause confusion even if you have a program that checks your spelling.

Mr. or Mr?
Ms. or Ms?
Dr. or Dr?

This difference is dictated by the diversity of the English language. In American English, there should be a period, while in British English, there shouldn’t.

Good Morning, (…)
Good Afternoon, (…)
Good Evening, (…)

Remember to capitalize both words in these greetings, i.e., “Good” and “Morning.”

Dear Isabelle, (…)
Dear Isabel, (…)
Dear Mr. Miller, (…)

Don’t forget to double- or even triple-check the correct spelling of the recipient’s name. In the international business world, there is a diversity of names that have different spelling depending on where the person comes from. It’s an obvious, yet often skipped, email writing tip.

What comes after the greeting?

Here’s a list of phrases that may be useful if you don’t know what the first sentence of your email should be.

Email Opening Lines Examples
  1. I’m writing to ask about…
  2. Thank you for your message.
  3. I’d like to let you know…
  4. Have you heard about…?

However, the best strategy is to make the first sentence about the reader. Find something that makes your message easy to relate to.

For example:

Email Opening Lines with Reference to the Recipient
  1. I’ve noticed that your company…
  2. Your post about… made me think…
  3. I was wondering, how did you achieve/what’s your secret to…?

Summary

In business emails, you need to stay professional. However, it doesn’t mean you have to be super formal and use sentences you’d never use in the real world. With these email openings, you’ll always know how to start your next important business email.

  • Adjust your tone to the recipient.
  • Check your spelling twice.
  • Remember about capitalization in greetings.
  • Get recipient’s attention with the first sentence.

Check out the next lesson to learn how to close an email and optimize the last line to get a response.

In the next lesson

How to End an Email With a Professional Closing

You already know how to create an efficient email structure and how to start an email. Let’s revise how you can close your business email to achieve your goal.

Go to lesson 3

Stay tuned!

We’ll send you info about new lessons to your inbox every two weeks.

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