The Handshake Gone Digital: The Importance of Digital First Impressions
Let me ask you a question: What’s the first thing you do when you are introduced to another person? Shake their hand, of course! So what should you do when you are introducing yourself for the first time via email? Below we cover why a proper email is essential for good digital first impressions, as well as a few steps on how to get it right.
In today’s world, everyone and their mother is online, whether it’s on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone—especially in the realm of business. With as important as first impressions are in person, they are becoming equally if not more important through email. Email has become the go-to form of communication in the business world. This past year, email accounts for businesses were estimated at nearly 1 billion mailboxes. Like the ever-growing digital space, this figure will continue to grow into the hundreds of billions over the next ten years.
So how do you craft an email that will create a good digital first impression and still actually be read? Let’s start where all first impression emails start…
A proper introduction in the very first email you send to another individual is critical because an average professional gets hundreds of emails each day. You have to give them a reason to take time out of their day to read yours.
When introducing yourself, make sure to give your name, your position, and the company for which you work. If you are following up with the recipient from an in-person meeting or a referral from a mutual acquaintance, make sure you establish this connection right after your introduction. This can help you build rapport before you get into the reason(s) for your email.
Keep it Short and Sweet
People have an average digital attention span of 8 seconds, which is less than that of a goldfish. If you find yourself rambling on and on, just stop, shut down your device, and take a minute to remind yourself of the reason for your email. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who will talk your arm and leg off in person, and the same applies to digital communication. Through email it is a lot easier to walk away from a conversation—people just click “back” or “delete.” So please don’t be that digital guy or girl, I beg of you!
Emails need to be kept short, sweet, and to the point. Interest in the information within the email lessens as the recipient has to scroll down, so try to avoid too many topics and paragraphs. You will only have the recipient’s attention for a few seconds, so you have to make this count. Quickly explain the reason for emailing them and why they should continue the conversation.
If you like to be wordy in your emails, I would strongly advise you to use some creative formatting—that way the recipient is enticed to continue reading.
An informative signature, in my eyes, is the most important thing in an email. Unless you tell the recipient how to contact you in the body of the email, the only way to reach you is a reply. You want to give the recipient as many options as you can to respond, and you give them more to work with if they want to call you, look you up on social media, and/or verify your place of work.
So next time you send an email, take a second and look it over. What would your first impression be, and would you contact yourself back?