How to write your first email greeting to a client

By Robert Half on 7 December 2021
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

Ask ten professionals what the best first email greeting should be and you will probably receive ten different answers..

For some, you must remain formal at all times, and onl Dear and Sincerely will do.

For others, a simple Hey, Cheers or even Thnx are perfectly appropriate.

Many of us send off so many emails in a day that it’s easy to consider them casual. Some certainly are — for example, sending a quick note to ask a co-worker a question or putting in your lunch order for the meeting next week. In those cases, anything other than a friendly, familiar greeting would come off as ... well, weird.

But not every email is as informal, of course, and taking a relaxed attitude with each message is a big mistake. You want to be more professional when emailing someone you've worked with only a few times before, a new client or a company executive, for instance.

Related: Understanding how to prepare for a new job.

Writing a first email greeting

“Treat it like a business letter,” international business etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore says of first-time work emails. When in doubt? “It’s better to be more formal than too casual,” she advises.

By being respectful in your email communications, you show the recipient that you are a competent, conscientious businessperson.

This is especially important if you've yet to establish much of a connection with the person you're emailing.

Your email — and your email greeting, in particular — is the first impression he or she has of you. If your email greeting is too informal or personal, it can be off-putting and not give a great first impression; rather that you're rushed, inattentive or sloppy.

Here are several standard approaches to a first email greeting:

  • Dear Name — The best bet for business communication.
  • Hello, Name — Also acceptable but a little more relaxed
  • Hi, Name — The friendliest option while still appearing professional.
  • No greeting — Not recommended. Use at your own peril.

“You can hardly be wrong going too formal. But you can be dead wrong going too casual,” Whitmore says. “In the beginning, it’s better to be more formal than casual. As time goes on, and you have a relationship with a person, you can relax a bit.”

Related: How to write a thank you email after completing a job interview

How to sign off an email

Whitmore’s go-to business email closing is Best regards or All my best followed by her name.

But email etiquette is not black-and-white, she says. The email greeting and email sign-off choices she uses “depend who I’m sending the email to, how well I know them and my relationship with them,” she says.

The No. 1 rule, according to her, is to not be too affectionate in your email sign-off.

For someone Whitmore has an established relationship with, “the most affectionate I might get is Warm regards or Kind regards,” she says.

For more casual email communications, you could sign off with a Cheers, Thanks, or Best.

But Whitmore strongly advises steering clear of any text-like abbreviations when it comes to your email sign-off, like Tx or Thank u, no matter whom you're communicating with or how well you know them.

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