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Business Email — First Contact; First Impression

Your email is your first impression!

Your first contact with a potential new customer, employer, or partner will make a first impression on or off-line.

That impression, in many cases, will determine if a business relationship will be encouraged. The last thing you want to do is squander this one-time opportunity by being lazy, too informal, or in a rush.

Your first contact must be dressed to impress!

Email First Contact Tips

With first contact emails, the approach and structure that you use will make all the difference. You do not want to send an off-the-cuff, run-of-the-mill email that you would send to just anyone.

  • Integrate a professional greeting.
  • Use a respectful level of formality.
  • Note the precise reason for contact.
  • Include specifics to the person you are contacting.
  • Provide the details required for the recipient to respond.
  • Follow through with a prompt and gracious response to your response.

Apply these tips to avoid causing an unnecessary response for clarification or more information. You don’t want to ping others’ efficiency. That’s called not getting off on the right foot.

Make it evident that you will not be a time-waster. Do this by providing the information both sides need out on the table to start a productive business relationship.

My Experience Confirms This

Being a one-woman show, I can speak from experience. I form an impression by that first contact email and the subsequent handful that follow. I can confidently determine whether a potential inquirer is one I can successfully work with.

When I receive an inquiry that does not include even the basics of Business Email Etiquette, I know that person will consume more of my time. Not just in email communications but throughout the course of project tasks. My 26 years of experience proves that out.

I don’t know about you, but I hate being made inefficient through no fault of my own, mainly because this can also cause my customer service levels to suffer for my established clientele. Not good.

Paying attention to details and responding with clarity is necessary for both sides and for me to do my job well. So, do I take that risk? Would you?

Recruiters, HR and Management Agree

Recruiters and management personnel have relayed to me this same dilemma. Candidates that do not take the necessary time and thought in their business email communications can be easily outperformed by those who do.

New contacts who take the necessary time and thought before clicking the send button will form a better first impression. In addition, it is a window into what can be expected moving forward.

  • Can they follow instructions?
  • Are their writing and language skills anemic?
  • Will they be able to represent my company the way I need them to?
  • Are they able to reply promptly and with clarity to inquiries?
  • Can they meet deadlines and requirements?
  • Will they enhance or hinder my customer service reputation?

Other consultants that I’ve discussed this with also relay the same frustration. Potential clients that do not communicate in a formal, detailed manner raise red flags.

They don’t realize that, most likely, the consultant is also deciding. Will this be a profitable client or a resource drain?

Communication Skills Matter

If you want to be considered, your email communication skills need to be on full display. Especially considering most jobs now require email skills.

Simple things like making sure that you spell names correctly. That you proofread for grammar and tone. Integrating a respectful level of formality and professionalism. That you take the time to type correctly structured complete sentences.

Imagine how you will stand heads and shoulders above others making the very same inquiries. When you communicate as a professional, other professionals want to work with you.

Email is Your Calling Card

Every email you send is a building block for an opportunity. The opportunity to impress a potential new customer, employer, supplier, or vendor. An indication that you should be considered over your perceived competition.

“Work with me because I won’t waste your time.”

“Work with me because I am a professional.”

Use every email, even after that first contact, as a tool to encourage and build upon that all-so-important positive perception. Show that you respect other’s time, and they will, in turn, respect yours.

Your first contact is that one-time shot at a great first impression. An impression that can open doors to nurturing ongoing successful business relationships.

Go ahead and share!