Making the first contact with a new person can be awkward at times. While it is easy to hide behind a computer screen, composing an email to someone you have never met can, at times, be just as awkward and nerve racking as it would be in a real-life situation.
Unfortunately, if you work in freelance translation or any other profession that involves online communication, contacting new people via email is an unavoidable occurrence. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take in order to alleviate any awkwardness, as well as ensuring that your email will not make its way straight to the recipients spam folder.
It’s All in the Subject Line
Before you think about how to compose the body of the email, spend some time on the subject line. Keep in mind that the subject line of your email is one of two elements that will be read first (the other is your email address or your name, or whatever you have set as the sender’s name from your email address) and will form the basis of the recipient’s decision whether to open the email or not.
In addition, the recipient’s email program or antivirus software will scan the subject line for certain words and layouts which may indicate that it is junk mail rather than a legitimate piece of correspondence.
Don’t waste the opportunity – use the subject line to set out clearly in a few words what your email is about.
An example from the point of view of a freelance translator looking to provide a quote to translate marketing documents for a potential client would be ‘CompanyName – Translating Your Marketing Documents’, rather than the ‘Hello’. Where possible, include the company’s name in the subject line.
Identify Yourself – and Them
While the format of some companies’ email addresses gives away the recipient’s full name by being in the format firstname.lastname@example.org, other email address formats are not as obvious. You may only know the person’s first initial or last initial. If possible, find out the full first and last names of your recipient, in order to personally tailor your email for them. Check the business’s website to see if they have a list of their staff, otherwise make a quick phone call to the company to find out.
It is equally important to clearly identify yourself, including your position and the business that you represent.
Be Concise and Professional
Avoid writing emails that are needlessly wordy and, although it sounds counterintuitive, avoid gushing with pleases and thankyous. Be professional and concise by getting to the point of your email and making it very clear why you are getting in contact. Make use of dot points and subheadings to give all of the relevant information. The shorter your email, the more chance you have of receiving a quick reply.
Ask for What You Want
Finally, be clear about what you are asking for. Also include alternative ways of contacting you, as it may be more convenient for the other person to phone you then to reply to your email.