How to Start an Email to a Stranger

    Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts

    When emailing someone you don’t know for the first time, there is a certain amount of awkwardness involved. You’re bursting into their day, often with a query that will lead to more work for them, so it’s important to make a good first impression. What seems like a small detail, like the style of greeting you open with, can feel like a huge issue. Here’s our two cents on how to structure your opening salvo.

    Email awkwardness

    If you’re needing to send an email to a company with many employees, and you don’t know how to directly contact the person you want to reach, you generally have to go through some sort of middleman manning the general email account.

    You don’t know who’s going to catch the email, and it can be difficult to work out how to pitch your message.

    • “To whom it may concern,” sounds too formal and impersonal.
    • “Dear Miss, Dear Mister,” sounds too awkward.
    • “Hi,” is possibly too informal and direct.

    Better options

    • Keep it simple: “Hello,” never rubbed anyone up the wrong way.
    • Keep it light: “Hi there,” is a more lighthearted way of starting an email, and gets around having to specify a particular individual.

    The old-fashioned way

    But the best option may be to avoid email altogether, or at least cut out some of the labor involved in getting in touch. Find the phone number of the company online, then call and speak to a secretary or other real-live person, then either ask them directly for what you need, ask to be put through to the relevant person, or ask for that person’s email address. Direct human contact, it’s worth a try!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Starting an Email to a Stranger

    How do I start an email to someone I don’t know professionally?

    Starting an email to someone you don’t know professionally can be tricky. It’s important to maintain a balance between being too formal and too casual. Start with a formal salutation like “Dear [Recipient’s Name]” if you know their name. If you don’t, use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Introduce yourself briefly and state the purpose of your email in the first few lines. Be concise, clear, and respectful throughout your email.

    What should I avoid when writing an email to a stranger?

    When writing an email to a stranger, avoid using slang or overly casual language. Don’t make assumptions about the recipient’s knowledge or experience. Avoid being too direct or blunt, as this can come across as rude. Also, avoid lengthy emails; keep your message concise and to the point.

    How can I make my email stand out to a stranger?

    To make your email stand out, use a compelling subject line that clearly states the purpose of the email. Personalize your email by addressing the recipient by their name if possible. Be professional and courteous, and make sure your email is well-structured and free of grammatical errors.

    How can I end an email to a stranger?

    Ending an email to a stranger should be done professionally. Use a formal closing like “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” followed by your full name. You can also include your contact information and any necessary attachments.

    How can I ensure my email to a stranger is effective?

    To ensure your email is effective, clearly state your purpose in the beginning. Be concise and to the point, and avoid unnecessary jargon. Use a professional tone and proofread your email for any errors before sending it.

    Is it okay to follow up on an email to a stranger?

    Yes, it’s okay to follow up on an email if you haven’t received a response within a reasonable time frame. However, be respectful and patient. Don’t send multiple follow-up emails in a short period of time.

    How can I address a stranger in an email if I don’t know their gender?

    If you’re unsure of the recipient’s gender, it’s best to use a gender-neutral salutation like “Dear [Recipient’s Last Name]” or “To Whom It May Concern”.

    What should I do if I don’t receive a response to my email?

    If you don’t receive a response to your email, you can send a polite follow-up email after a reasonable amount of time has passed. However, if you still don’t receive a response, it’s best to move on and not send further emails.

    How can I build a connection with the stranger in my email?

    Building a connection in an email can be achieved by showing genuine interest in the recipient. Ask relevant questions, show empathy, and be respectful. Also, try to find common ground or shared interests to help build a rapport.

    Is it necessary to include a subject line in an email to a stranger?

    Yes, including a subject line in your email is crucial. It gives the recipient a clear idea of what the email is about and can determine whether or not they open it. Make sure your subject line is concise, clear, and relevant to the content of your email.