Not many guys are confident with writing a business email.
That's bad news – without a basic understanding of how to write an email professionally, a guy could lose out on his dream job simply because he didn't sound competent in his application email to the big boss.
It's not taught that much in schools. So I'm teaching it here at the RMRS Academy for Stylish and Professional Men. Class is in session – listen up.
In this article, you'll discover:
- How To Choose A Professional Email Address
- How To Write An Email Subject Line
- How Should You Start A Professional Email?
- Writing A Professional Email
- How To Sign Off A Professional Email
- Using Email Safely
#1 How To Choose A Professional Email Address
The first step in learning how to write an email professionally is to create a professional email address. Without one, no one will take you seriously in the world of business and academics.
That's right StudMuffinMustang1985@yahoo.com … I'm talking to you.
To be a professional and present yourself as such, you need to ensure that your business email address is up to scratch. It's actually a straightforward thing to sort out. You can set up a professional-sounding email address in about 2 minutes by following this formula:
First name.last name.three firstname.lastname@example.org
So for me, I could opt for:
If your name's Robert Frost:
Some people might say not to include numbers in your professional email address. That was good advice 15 years ago when fewer people were using email. However, everyone and their dog has an email nowadays, so most businesses will understand the need for unique numbers in your address.
Just avoid anything rude or uncouth! What you do in your personal life is your business; don't bring it to work with you.
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#2 How To Write An Email Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing a hiring manager or boss sees when your email appears in their inbox. Think of it as your email handshake. To learn how to write an email professionally, you need to get this bit right!
Get it wrong, and your email could end up in the trash quicker than you can say ‘three-piece suit.' In a business environment, time is money. If the recipient thinks your email is a waste of their time, guess what – they're not going to open it.
The key to a great subject line is clarity. Don't try and sell yourself, don't try and be funny – get straight to the point so your recipient knows what they're about to read.
For a job application, write your full name and the position you are applying for, followed by ‘application':
Subject Line: Antonio Centeno, Area Manager Application
For an email to the big boss, state the subject of the email, the department you work in, and what you need:
Subject Line: Performance Reviews, Human Resources, Sign and Approve
For an email to a colleague, stip it back a bit and just include the subject of the email and action required:
Subject Line: Holiday Request, Approval Needed
You get the idea. Keep it short, clear, and professional.
#3 How Should You Start A Professional Email?
Surprisingly, this is one of the trickiest parts of learning how to write an email professionally. Your position in a company, who you're emailing, and the type of company you work for will affect how you greet someone in an email.
As such, giving a definitive guide on every type of email greeting would be an impossible task. However, you can apply some go-to rules if you're unsure how to start your professional email.
Starting An Email To Your boss
‘Hey' is a go-to greeting for most guys when speaking to someone. However, in an email, this can appear far too informal. However, ‘Hello' can sound a bit weird in an email. So what's the solution?
In my experience, avoiding a greeting word altogether and going straight to their professional title is the best way forward. For example, when emailing your boss:
Avoid: Hey Terry H!
Try: Mr. Hartford,
If you work in a creative industry or a laid-back office, you could use their first name instead. You'll have to assess your work environment and decide what's appropriate for you.
Starting An Email To Your Professional Equal
This is where things can get a little simpler in your journey to learn how to write an email professionally. If you're emailing someone on the same level as you, you don't have to be quite as formal as when emailing the CEO.
Does that mean you can be super conversational and informal? Probably not – you're still in an office environment, after all. However, you could probably get away with a slightly more casual greeting:
Avoid: Yo Yo Yo Franky!
Try: Hey Francis,
If you're friendly with your colleague, take this advice with a pinch of salt. However, it's always important to maintain a professional manner while at work. Your email to your colleague may be seen by your boss at some point, so be mindful of what you say and how you say it!
Starting An Email To Those Who Work Under You
When starting an email to your subordinates, consider what sort of a manager you are. Often, guys like to be approachable and friendly when it comes to managing their team, so you'll need to be careful when writing emails so that you don't betray the expectations you've set out as a manager so far.
To play it safe, there are three ways you could approach starting an email to those that work under you:
- The Friendly Manager: Hey, team!
- The Middle-Ground Manager: Hey guys,
- The No-Nonsense Manager: Morning / Afternoon all,
Whichever you choose, the same rules apply. Be professional, be approachable, and present yourself as the manager. You're in charge, and it's your head on the line if things go wrong!
#4 Writing A Professional Email
You get the idea by now – knowing how to write an email professionally is all about keeping things short, to the point, and business appropriate. So it's no different when you're writing the main bulk of your email text.
Depending on the topic of your email, there may be some differences in the contents you include. Writing an email requesting help is very different from writing an email to organize a meeting.
As such, I've done the hard work for you and written out some guidelines to follow for different email correspondence:
When emailing someone for assistance, start by stating your problem and why it has occurred. Inform your recipient of your attempts at fixing the problem, and then ask them for help using specifics.
Don't be afraid of being honest. If you've messed up, own it, and be sure to inform them of this. It may affect how they can help you.
Your email might look something like this:
Good morning Jamie,
I've had some trouble with my laptop this morning. It powers up to the log-in screen but freezes when I try and log in.
I've tried resetting my laptop and running it in safe mode, but it hasn't solved the issue. Would it be possible for you to visit my office later on to take a look? Alternatively, I can bring it to you in IT support – let me know which would be easier for you.
I should mention that I clicked on an email that contained a risky-looking link. It said it was from HR but looked weird and didn't have the company logo or header. It may have been a virus.
I'll let you work that one out!
Organizing A Meeting
When emailing your colleagues to organize a meeting, it's good to be as brief as possible.
Most people are super busy at work and don't have time to scan through paragraphs of text to find the information they need. So keep it short, sweet, and make sure you bold the critical information to make it easy to spot.
Here's an example:
I've arranged a team meeting on 10/25/22 in meeting room B.
We need to go over some projections for this next quarter – make sure you have your department's plan of action ready to go by Thursday 8th Oct.
See you all then,
Depending on your position within a company, it may be necessary for you to email a colleague with feedback on a project or activity they've completed for you.
Many guys find this difficult – when presented incorrectly, email feedback can come across as harsh and impersonal. Don't worry; you can take some simple steps to make sure you appear constructive and supportive when providing feedback in a professional environment.
- Lead with the positives: Unless they've really messed things up, chances are there will be some positives you can mention before going into how they can improve.
- Bullet point key information: Make your feedback email as easy to read as possible. Big chunks of text look intimidating and can project negativity.
- End with a positive: Your constructive feedback should be sandwiched between positive comments. This way, your colleague enters the email on a high and leaves it on a high.
Here's an example:
Great efforts today on your presentation to the shareholders – everyone was really impressed with your graphs and visuals!
A few things to note:
- Avoid speaking into your laptop screen. It was hard to understand what you were saying at times, so be confident and speak with your head held high.
- You didn't mention your profit projections for the next quarter. If I could get these in an email by the end of the day, that would be great.
- For your next presentation in a few months, try and aim for an extra 5-10 minutes of presenting time. Today's presentation felt a bit short.
I'm really impressed by your data collection methods, by the way – you'll have to share that spreadsheet with me next time we check-in at one of our weekly meetings!
Appreciate the efforts, as always!
#5 How To Sign Off A Professional Email
This is the easy bit! Your subject line is written, the bulk of your email is out of the way, and now all you need to do is sign off.
Take a sigh of relief – you're nearly there!
When signing off an email, you just need to focus on the formality of what you've written and who you're writing to. That will determine how friendly you can be in your sign-off and whether or not to include your full name or just your first name.
It's as simple as following these rules:
- When writing to a superior – use your full name and include the department you work in below it.
- When writing to an equal – use your full name if you're not ‘friendly' with them or your first name if you know them well as a colleague.
- When writing to your workers – determine the sort of boss you are and match your sign-off to your greeting. A friendly manager might use his first name, and a no-nonsense manager would use his full name.
When it comes to the sign-off phrase before your name:
- Formal: Yours sincerely,
- Inbetween: Many thanks,
- Informal: Thanks!
#6 Using Email Safely
I couldn't write an article about professional email etiquette without mentioning online safety. There are some very clever criminals out there, gents, so it's essential to be clued in on how to stay safe online.
Firstly, never give away your bank or personal information to unsolicited emailers. If you don't know who they are or think it's weird that they're asking for your information – DELETE THE EMAIL.
It's as simple as that.
As a standard rule, your bank will never ask for your details over email or the phone. If someone's claiming to be your bank and asking for your PIN, they're most likely trying to scam you and take your cash!
Finally, and most importantly, don't ever give away any passwords via email. If you need to tell a colleague a password, tell them in person. Once that email has left your computer, who knows where it might end up!
Knowing how to write an email professionally is a skill every man should master. But it's not the only thing companies look for when employing someone – check out my guide on how to dress for a job interview.
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