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Greeting People Professionally: The Best Email Openers

Crafting professional email greetings sets the tone for the rest of your communication. How you address someone in those opening lines conveys subtle but meaningful context. The context can influence how your whole message is received.

Getting your email greeting right is especially important in professional correspondence. It is where you want to establish credibility. And it is where you build rapport from that very first line. Follow essential guidelines on professional etiquette while also understanding that emails are still an informal medium with room for personality.

Essential Guidelines for Professional Email Greetings

Crafting the right email greeting is crucial when establishing professional correspondence. Follow these key guidelines to set the tone.

The Art of the Email Greeting

Everyone should know how to greet someone. The way you greet someone in an email mirrors real-life first impressions – a polite handshake versus an enthusiastic high-five reflects contrasting situational norms. The email opener you choose, just like your body language upon meeting, impacts how your message is received. A stiff, overly formal greetings might come across as insincere, while an extremely casual one can undermine your professionalism. When it comes to greeting people professionally, choosing the right greeting words sets the tone for effective communication.

Keep it professional – avoid overly casual phrases

Stay away from informal salutations like “Hey” or “Yo” unless you have an established peer-to-peer relationship. A casual “Hi John” is generally acceptable when addressing most colleagues, while “Hello Ms. Sarah” errs on the formal side for more senior contacts. “Dear Mr. Smith” remains a foolproof option in any professional context, widely preferred in formal business correspondence. Save the “Heys” and “Yos” for close coworkers rather than external partners.

Use appropriate titles and full names

Greeting words in English should not be as complicated as people make it look like. In professional relationships, especially early on, it is better to err on the side of formality with titles like Dr., Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc. Only use a first name once permission has been explicitly granted, for example, with a sign-off like “Please, call me Zara going forward.” Always double-check name spelling and confirm title preferences if unsure or if contacting someone new. Getting names wrong undermines your attention to detail. In professional correspondence, selecting appropriate greeting words is crucial for initiating positive interactions.

The Best Email Openers for Professionals 

With essential etiquette covered, let’s apply those guidelines to real-world scenarios with examples of email greetings suitable for workplace correspondence.

“Dear [Name]”: A Timeless Standard in Professional Email Greetings

The tried and true “Dear [first/last name]” remains a universally safe choice as an email opener in any professional context. It conveys respect and gratitude for the recipient’s time and attention. Professional email greetings and closings to a group helps in establishing professionalism while acknowledging recipients.

Standard opener when addressing colleagues

If writing to a peer in the same organization with whom you have some degree of existing rapport but not necessarily on a casual first-name basis, “Dear [last name]” is an appropriately polite email greeting. For example, “Dear Ms. Chen” or “Dear Mr. Sanchez” address your peers formally while allowing room for personality in the rest of your message. Crafting an email opener with thoughtful greeting words demonstrates respect and professionalism towards the recipient.

Use last names unless given permission for first names

Stick to surnames as the default unless a colleague has specifically said, “Please, call me Zara.” . Revert back to the last name if ever in doubt. Never assume a first-name basis without express permission.

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Referencing Relationship

Providing some context on your relationship reminds recipients how you are connected. It sets the right tone for the incoming message. If you want to address a group collectively, sending a professional email greetings to a group would be a better decision.

“Dear [Manager’s name]” or “Hi [Department] Team”

Try starting with “Dear [Jane Smith]” directed to your boss or “Hello [Marketing Department] team”. This reminds them straight away of your relationship. And it implicitly signals an understanding of formal lines of communication in the organization.

Helps provide context

Email openers framing the relationship context reassure recipients your message lands in the right place. And it allows them to orient their mindset before digesting email greetings. Clarifying respective roles allows interaction to start off on the right foot.

Asking Permission by Name

If you need to email someone more senior, seek explicit permission before presuming a casual name basis.

“Dear Ms. [Surname],”

Demonstrate respect for their superior position by opening with a formal last name only. Follow any title preferences stated or known.

Then in the email: “Let me know if I may call you [first name] going forward.”

This allows them the option to indicate if being on a casual is acceptable as your working relationship progresses. Always defer to the recipient’s preference.

No Name If Unsure

When emailing someone completely new with no context prior relationship to reference:

“Dear sir or madam” aligns with the formal greetings for unknown recipients. However, in email, this can risk coming across as excessively stiff. Instead, opt for the friendlier version:

“To whom it may concern”

This greeting is perfectly acceptable when you do not have a designated contact or need to send a general email blast. Let the content indicate appropriate channels for response. Avoid “To Sir/Madam” in emails.

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Follow-Up Emails: Greeting Recipients by Name

In a continued email chain once rapport is established and first names used:

Okay to use abbreviated “Hi/Hello [first name],”

Now you have ongoing correspondence with names established. Therefore, it is fine to continue with “Hi Zara” in follow-ups to keep communication casual and flowing.

Refresh names if taking an older email chain

If you need to re-initiate an older email conversation from months prior, gently reestablishing context can help the recipient’s memory with a “Hi Zara (marketing coordinator we worked with last June) – I wanted to follow up…”


Polished professional sign-offs confirming your respect and appreciation:

“Best” and “Thanks” are solid options

Reliable choices like “Best,”“Many thanks,” and “Thanks” effectively wrap up correspondence.

“Cheers” and “Sincerely” also work

In most workplace contexts, the casual Briticism “Cheers” lands well. Typically the term “Sincerely” adds gracious formality. Choose sign-offs that suit your brand voice while ensuring respect.

Also Read: Best GoodBye Email Examples

Examples of Professional Email Greetings 

Initial formal correspondence:

Dear Ms. Zara Khattak,

I came across your real estate profile while researching local agents in my area. My family recently moved to a house nearby that needs some renovations done before we fully settle in…

Follow-up permission for first name:

Hi Zara,

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to discuss my renovation project and connecting me with contractors you recommend… Please let me know if I may continue to address you as Zara going forward as we take the next steps.



Emailing established peers on a friendly basis:

Hi Marina,

Just wanted to check in about the marketing presentation for next week’s client meeting. I’m putting finishing edits on the deck and should have a near-final draft for your review by tomorrow EOD…

Let me know if you need anything else from me in the meantime!



Emailing with relationship reference:

Hello Smith Associates Team,

As we begin planning this year’s Q4 sales initiatives, I wanted to check if you have the capacity for an added project…

Emailing without name context:

To whom it may concern,

I am looking to connect with the appropriate person to discuss current openings for marketing coordinator role. Please advise the best point of contact to obtain further details about applying…


Greetings of the day in email should be a format that every employee needs to learn. Mindful email greetings represent the underappreciated first impression you deliver. 

Applying guidelines on professional etiquette through email openers demonstrates consideration. And it paves the way for communications that positively impact recipients. Treat your email greetings and closings with the same care you would do in a face-to-face interaction.

Related Article: How to Write an Effective Formal Email?

FAQs on Email Greetings 

Q1. Should I use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. when addressing someone formally? 

Ans: Use Mr. to address men, Mrs. for married women. And use Ms. for women when you are unaware of their marital status. 

Ms. is always a safe default option if the woman’s preference is unknown, whereas Mrs. or Miss assumes marital status.

Q2. When should I use first names versus last names? 

Ans: Use last names unless the recipient has specifically given you permission to address them by their first name. This permission could come through an email signature like “Thanks, Lisa” or verbally in person. However,  don’t assume familiarity until it has been explicitly granted. Continue addressing them by last name only by default.

Q3. Is it okay to use “Hey” or “Hi” in professional emails? 

Ans: Avoid the casual “Hey” in formal business correspondence. Do it unless you share an established peer-to-peer relationship. 

Q4. Do email greetings really matter that much? 

Ans: Yes, email greetings set the crucial first impression tone for the rest of your message. An overly casual salutation could undermine your expertise right off the bat. Likewise, stuffy formality could inhibit reciprocal friendliness. The greeting you choose should align with the existing relationship and context.

Q5. Should I include job titles in email greetings?

Ans: Including relevant job titles helps provide framing context. For example, opening with “Hello [Company’s] Marketing Team” can clarify directionality for recipients right away. However, there is no need to stack multiple titles. Keep it streamlined with a maximum of 1-2 roles in the initial address.

Q6. What if I don’t know the recipient’s gender? 

Ans: If you have just a full name but are unsure of gender-related salutations, use their full name and omit gendered language entirely. Or simply open by topic with something broad like “To whom it may concern,” and let the email contents guide which department should handle the next steps.

Q7. Is there a go-to greeting I can always rely on? 

Ans: Yes, you can always fall back on the conventional “Dear [Mr./Ms. Last Name]” format. It is used in standard business correspondence communication. This signals basic respect. And it is unlikely ever to come across as overly stiff or too casual. “Dear [Full Name]” covers all your bases when in doubt.

Q8. Do I have to include “Dear” in the greeting? 

Ans: Other email greetings like “Hello [name]” or starting with their name also absolutely work. Leaving out “Dear” doesn’t necessarily come across as less polite or professional these days. Choose what suits your purposes best.

Q9. What’s the best closing sentiment sign-off? 

Ans: “Best” neatly conveys parting good wishes, as does the reliable standby “Regards.” More formal options include “Sincerely” and “Cordially.” All get the job done, so opt for whatever aligns best with your existing rapport and communication style. Don’t overthink it!

Q10. How do I refresh an old email chain with someone? 

Ans: Briefly reestablish context by integrating a memory refresher based on your prior relationship – For example, “[Name], (marketing coordinator we collaborated with last spring) here touching base…” This polite reminder reorients them to how you’re connected before diving back into the intended topic.

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