“Why didn't you choose me for the leadership position?” This is an actual email from a student asking why they hadn't been chosen for a leadership program. Although I was excited that the student took the time to inquire about why they weren't chosen for a particular program, the way in which they sent the email also sent the wrong message. So, I want to offer some tips for how you can make sure you have an effective email that you want instructors, staff at your school, or anyone for that matter, to read and respect.
First, before you do anything, check your email address. Is your email address something like email@example.com? If so, definitely read on. While your email is not a complete indicator of who you are, it can be a person’s first impression of you, especially if they get an email from you before they meet you. Some people will also judge your level of professionalism by your email. Is it right? That’s debatable. However, you should at least know alternate ways to present yourself so that you make the impression you intent to make. You don’t have to work for a large company to have a professional email. You could simply use Gmail or Yahoo to establish an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Using your name in your email is helpful for several reasons. First, It is helpful when someone may be searching their inbox to look for something you sent or even to send you something. It is easier to find something from Denise when there is an email Denise.Brown@yahoo.com rather than email@example.com. Second, an email with your name is easier to remember than an email with random numbers and letters. If someone is trying to remember that person that they want to call back about an opportunity, but they can’t remember your email, you may have missed an excellent opportunity. Finally, it establishes a professional image for you. This helps the most when networking, as you are starting to create your brand and your name is associated with who you are and what you represent overall.
Second, be sure you address the recipient by their title or formal name. For example, if you have an instructor named Jane Doe, it is better to refer to them as Instructor Doe rather than Jane. If Instructor Doe wants to be called by their first name, they will let you know. This is a simple sign of respect letting them know you respect their position, but also that you respect any boundaries (i.e. some people only want close friends calling them by their first name. Others could care less, but let them tell you that).
Third, be sure you are specific in the body of your email. Let the person know why you are writing, what you need, and if you need a reply. An example might be:
“Greetings instructor Doe,
I was writing to inquire about my grade on the last exam. I was wondering if I could schedule a time with you to review my score in hopes that I may do better on the next exam.
I look forward to your response.”
That sounds much better than “Can you check on my grade?” It shows that you took the time to think about your request and what you needed from the recipient. The instructor is also more likely to have a positive response. Believe me, I have seen many people who would have otherwise helped a student, change their mind or think twice based on the way a student portrayed themselves in an email. Emails that reek of disrespect and entitlement are the most common disrespectful emails that I see. So, do yourself a favor and ensure you are sending the message you want to send.
Fourth, end with a closing. Simply say Sincerely, best, etc. In your closing, also be sure to have information about how they can contact you. An Example is:
So, overall think strategically as you email others and be sure you are sending the message you intend to send. If you want assistance writing emails, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.