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The Email Greeting That Won’t Get You a Response

The most important part of an email is arguably the introduction. It not only sets the tone for the rest of your message, but might even decide if the recipient will even read the remainder of your email. While you may think that it's OK to start email with a simple “Hello” or “To Whom It May Concern,” using these salutations may actually be harming your ability to achieve the results you want with electronic communication.

The most important part of an email is arguably the introduction. It not only sets the tone for the rest of your message, but might even decide if the recipient will even read the remainder of your email. While you may think that it’s OK to start email with a simple “Hello” or “To Whom It May Concern,” using these salutations may actually be harming your ability to achieve the results you want with electronic communication.

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In fact, “To Whom It May Concern” is the worst possible way you can start an email according to a recent article in Business Insider. Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, says, “Ultimately, it sends the wrong message,” as the salutation is old-fashioned and can be construed as part of a mass-produced email. (Ask any journalist who receives mass mailings from PR firms.)

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If you’re being genuine — and not a spammy PR rep — there are better salutations to use. A simple “Hi” or “Hello” is slightly better, but if you can find the recipient’s name, you should definitely address the email to them directly. Gottsman says that if you don’t try to find the name of the person you are trying to contact, the recipient may be insulted, and your chances of receiving a response decline significantly. This is especially true for job seekers.

For these job seekers, Gottsman also suggests addressing your email to the position of the person, or the group of people you’re sending it to, such as, “Dear Hiring Manager,” or, “Dear Marketing Department.” This will show that you tried to find the right person — and at least landed in the right department.

Finally, you should also never use greetings such as “Dear Sir,” or, “Hi Ma’am.” These salutations are also outdated and give off a very impersonal impression, setting the wrong tone for the email and are also almost guaranteed to not get you a response. 

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What email greetings do you avoid using? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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