What I’m about to say will make every single email you ever wrote flash in front of your eyes. One of the best sessions of the MBA pre-course, along with another I’ll blog about later. I will be forever grateful to Rotman for conducting this. The north american (or relevant?) way of writing emails.
Disclaimer: None of these are original content. They are a reproduction of things covered in class. Any inputs of the author exist solely for the purpose of trying to make it a more engaging read. Here goes.
1. No opener or “Hope this finds you well/in good health/in best spirits”. Not even a “Trust this finds you well”. If you don’t know them, you don’t blow them. Networking emails need to be task oriented. Save the relationship building for phone calls or face-to-face meet ups.
2. Resist the “hope to hear from you”platitude that is the most conspicuous and shameless display of the overflowing desperation of a response . Just conclude with a “Thank you for your (time and) consideration” Because you’re not thanking them for anything. Saying “Many thanks in advance”, ooh that’s brutal because it conveys a type of false modesty that’s too arrogant for anyone, let alone guys who you’re trying to make a good first impression to. It’s almost as if you expect them to just do whatever you’re asking of them, no questions asked. Merely aim to leave the ball in their court, don’t tell them where to hit it.
3. No “with regards to” or “as per” or “henceforth” or “kindly. No “please find attached / enclosed herewith”. Only Asians with a colonial Brit hangover resort to such archaic phrasing. Just say “I’m attaching” that’s good enough. Attachments don’t need to be fondled and canoodled into an email.
4. Use “Hi” if you know your sender, if you don’t “Dear”followed by Mr.Last Name. “Hey” if they’re very close to you or your acquainted with really well.
5. When thanking someone for something: Thank them and then follow it up with something about the status of the gesture. Example: Thank you for the vase. It’s a lovely gift. It’s sitting on my table blah blah blah. So it’s not just a casual perfunctory thanks but you’re also giving them a tidbit about what their gesture resulted in.
6. Close with “regards” No “Cheers/Love/Best/Sincerely” definitely no “Kind regards”. Be formal. “Best regards” is usually saved for someone you really mean it to. So unless you want to be seen as a phony, leave that out – because nobody can mean the best to everyone they meet. Reserve it for a special few. Like the upper year who might do you favors, the professor who might grade your papers favorably, or the alum who might get you your first job. Kidding!
7. Dont say OOPS if you forgot an attachment. Just say “sorry, I left out the attachment”
8. Don’t apologize for anything else. Not for the length of the email, the request, or anything. DONT. That’s almost as stupid as starting a speech with “I’m not good at speeches…..”
9. Instead of saying “I’d appreciate/be grateful if you_____”. go with “If you could do this, I’d appreciate it” or “Could you please” or “would you mind”. That seems a lot less destitute and needy. You don’t have to be grateful for every small thing.
10. Re-read and proof read emails. Ensure they are brief & concise. Unlike this blog post which probably contains a lot of typos.
11. Edit for verbosity, redundancy, ambiguity, convoluted sentences
12. The best emails are crisp and informal in tone yet polite. They show you’re not desperate, you’re being seamless.
13. Lastly, singular purpose. If you have 2 requests or 2 or more things to talk about, write 2 mails. Don’t try to cram as many things as possible in one email. This isn’t a buffet where you hog as much as you can.