Tips for Emailing "Scary Adults"
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
Good afternoon! When beginning a formal email, especially to someone older or more experienced than you (for example, a teacher, mentor, or someone you are not familiar with), it is professional to begin with a greeting just like we demonstrated here. Follow up with a brief statement, such as “I hope you had a nice weekend” or “I hope you are well”. When asking someone for a favor or even a moment of their time via email, it is polite and pleasant to acknowledge them in a genuine way before getting down to business.
After your short introduction, double space for your next paragraph. If the email is going to be dense, it can be more approachable and easier to digest if the information is separated.
If you have never met the person you are emailing, write a short introduction that includes information such as:
Your first and last name
If applicable (and safe to share such information), your school, grade, and age
The organization that you are affiliated with if you are writing on behalf of an organization
The person you are emailing will be more likely to continue reading if they immediately know who it is from instead of needing to scroll down to the signature part of the email to identify the sender. Your initial introduction can look something like, “My name is Mia Knezevic and I’m a sophomore at Gunn High School. I work as a website and blog coordinator for the Big Sisters Project, an initiative that provides young women with free business mentorship.” If it feels appropriate within the context of the email, you may also thank the recipient of the email for their time, possibly with an adaptation of the following phrase: “Thank you so much for your time and consideration in reading my email”.
In the next paragraph, address why you are emailing. Remember, adults can be busy and may not want to sort through a ton of irrelevant information! So, get straight to the point. If you are asking a favor, do so politely and again, acknowledge their time. Let’s say that you want to set up a meeting -- tell them why, give loose parameters as to when you are free, but let them choose the time. Tell the adult roughly how long the meeting will take as well as exactly what you’d like to discuss and accomplish, so that they can prepare.
Many of us assume that an email is an online version of the “friendly letter” we wrote in second grade English class. However, there is one key difference. An email should be scannable. This means that, using bold font, italic font, underlined font, bullet points, or an ordered list, you should aim to highlight the key parts of the email. (We’ve demonstrated the aforementioned concept in this blog post.) The reader should be able to glance at the screen and not only understand your email format, but be able to quickly summarize the contents of your email. Providing highlights in such a way has the following benefits:
Establishes professional tone
Demonstrates your focus in your work
Helps quickly convey information in case your reader does not read your entire email
If you have any extra information to add, write it in an additional short paragraph. If not, thank them for their time and conclude the message. For example, you could say, “Thank you so much for your time. Please feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions. I look forward to hearing from you soon!”
Use a formal ending, such as “Sincerely,” or “Best,” and sign your full name. No matter what, remember to be polite, gracious of their time, and quick to the point! Nobody wants to read a whole essay in their inbox. :D And while it is important to convey yourself in a professional light, don't stifle your voice or hold back your personality! Be genuine. Thank you so much for your time and please feel free to comment below if you have any questions.
Mia Knezevic and The Big Sisters Team
Mia is a prominent member of the Big Sisters journalism team and enjoys sharing knowledge & inspiration via blog posts to the BSP community. Read her last blog post about Alexa Curtis here or check out her guide to writing a strong resume here!
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