How often do you get an email that makes you wonder, “I wonder why they sent this to me? What am I supposed to do with it?” As an adult, it’s an essential skill to know how to write professional emails that save time and get replies.
Even though you send several emails every day, you might not be great at composing these messages. And like with any form of communication, email etiquette evolves as time passes. You can learn some of these data-backed ways to write professional emails, or use these apps and websites for easy templates and rules.
1. Your Email Could Be Better (Web): 10 Common Faults and Fixes
An email has some unsaid rules and do’s and don’ts. It’s surprising how often we break these rules. Your Email Could Be Better is a quick guide to 10 common faults and how to fix them.
We often don’t notice them, as common they are. For example, avoiding vague subject lines, and including a call to action for the recipient, seem like common sense. But go through your inbox and you’ll find a lot of emails skip them entirely.
Each of the 10 faults also includes a short write-up on the correct protocol to follow. If you need to tell someone else about following one of the rules, the website has handy links for each point. Their example approach might seem a bit aggressive or rude to some, so tweak it to the tone you want to use with the recipient.
2. Networking Emails (Web): Free Templates for Career Growth
You meet someone who can help with your job, exchange emails, and then you have to follow up with them. But how? Most of us struggle to find the right words to reach out for a favor, a job, or to further advance our work-related cause with them. Resume Worded, one of the best resume and CV sites, put together a collection of over 50 email templates for such occasions.
There’s a handy search box, or you can choose one of the tags like cold or warm email networking templates, asking for introductions or advice, and reconnecting with old contacts. Browse through the list and you’ll find templates that are specific for different purposes, like separate templates for following up with a non-responder and a responder.
Click a template to see the full text, and copy-paste it into your email composition box. The template also explains the logic and lets you in on a few tips to ensure it has the desired effect on the recipient.
3. Cold Email Template (Web): Free Templates for Contacting Strangers
One of the hardest tasks in networking is to send a cold email, i.e. an email to someone who doesn’t know you and ask them for something. It could be a favor, a sale, or anything else, but it’s frightening to request that from a stranger.
Cold Email Template is a collection of 40 free templates for cold emails. Among others, the list includes emails for referrals, re-engaging with prospects, selling things, warm ways to build relationships, and simple and to-the-point messages. The contacts app Markd developed the collection, while the emails come from different sources like Freshworks, Sumo, Medium posts, and so on.
Using any email is as simple as copy-pasting it into your email client, and filling in or replacing the appropriate fields. Remember, these are templates, so use them as a starting point and customize them where possible. The website has a search box and filters too if you’re in a rush.
4. 12 Done-For-You Email Scripts (Ebook): Detailed Templates to Open Doors
Venture capitalist and career advisor Zak Slayback punched above his weight. He exchanged emails with people who didn’t know him or what he offered. In this short 50-page ebook guide, he has collected 12 of his most tried-and-tested email scripts.
Slayback is the first to say these aren’t magic templates. You have to fill in the gaps. But unlike other templates, he explains what you need to write and why. There is a lot of focus on making personal connections through emails, and being real enough that the recipient doesn’t think you’re working from a script.
The 12 scripts cover topics like setting up meetings, getting feedback, making introductions and referrals, and other situations that you’re likely to face in your professional career. The ebook is especially helpful for writers looking for critique, shares from people they admire, or guest blogging spots.
You’ll need to sign up for Slayback’s newsletter to get the free ebook. As always, we advise using a burner or disposable email service for that.
5. Email Guidelines for Students (Web): Essential Etiquette for University
Even if you can text and tweet with the best of them, professional emails are a different ball game. Students especially struggle with the unwritten rules of emails, and professors get annoyed. Educational blog Inside Higher Ed collected the essential guidelines for post-secondary students.
The article is an insightful read into the common mistakes that students make, and the problems that cause them in the first place. But what’s even better are the links within the article. Inside Higher Ed points out a few gems written by professors for their students:
- How to Email Your Professor (without being annoying AF) – 10 elements of an effective email, and a simple template to follow.
- 5 Ways to Get a Busy Professor to Answer Your Emails – The five things that your professor is looking for before they reply.
- How to email a professor – How to write a concise but explanatory email, and importantly, the follow-up etiquette.
Whether you put into practice only one of these, all three, or the Inside Higher Ed article is up to you. But if you’re a student, you need to read them all to understand how much a bad email can set you back by, and how easy it is to fix them.
Tools to Write Better Emails
All the email experts above have some advice that is consistent. They all think you need to spell-check and proofread emails, format the text for readability, be concise and brief, and avoid silly mistakes. Well, there are apps to help you with that.
From automatic suggestions for spelling and grammar to avoiding the reply-all button when you are BCC-ed, use these tools to write better emails that people will read and reply to. Such small details often make a big impact.