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How to Start a Professional Email (An Easy Peasy Guide)

Your guide to mastering the art of email openings

Woman sending a professional emailBy Shabana Bachu and Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Is there a right and wrong way to start a professional email? Yes, and yes. 

How to write the salutation in a professional email

If you know the person you’re emailing, use their name in the salutation:

  • Dear Jane Smith

  • Dear Ms./Dr. Smith 

  • Hello Ms./Dr. Smith

  • Hello Jane

  • Hi Jane

  • Hi Ms./Dr. Smith

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening Ms. Smith

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening Jane

If you don’t know who exactly is going to read your email, you can use one of these options:

  • Dear Madam or Sir (keep in mind that this is very formal and won’t be appropriate in all situations)

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening

  • Hi ACME team

  • Dear hiring manager

How to write the first line of a professional email

The first line should establish a connection and/or make the purpose of your email clear. If you have a mutual connection with the recipient, mention them. If you want to schedule a meeting, say so.

Referred by a mutual connection

Hi Ms. Smith, 

I was referred to you by your coworker, Abigail Adams, whom I met at the annual conference. She suggested I get in touch with you to discuss open positions on your team. I’ve attached my CV and cover letter. 

Would you be able to discuss sometime next week?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Mary Crawley

Cold outreach email

Hello Dr. Smith,

I’m writing about the open position on your research team. I saw your post on LinkedIn, but I have a few questions before I submit my materials.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Thank you very much for your time.

Mary Crawley

Professional email to a coworker / someone you’re familiar with

Hi Jane,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to check in on the status of the latest test. Do you know when you’ll have the results? We’re eager to move forward with step two.

Best,

Mary

Or you can start off with a question:

Hi Jane,

Would you be able to meet me for coffee this week? I’d like to get an update on your latest work. I have some time Tuesday morning. Would that work for you?

Cheers,

Mary

Read more: How to End an Email: The Best Sign-Offs for Every Tone

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