As a freelancer writer and apparent lover of newsletter sign-ups, my email inbox is a busy place.
I reckon I receive around 40 emails a day. And at least once a day, I will be looped into an introduction, or be contacted by, someone new. A stranger.
From our identical stations, somewhere across the country, this stranger and I will hover above our computer keyboards, pondering how best to greet each other via the mere fibres of the internet. Hmm.
Hello new work acquaintance, we try to say to each other, how very nice to meet you.
But we DON’T. We DON’T. We instead fling back and forth a phrase that has become so irritating to the modern wordsmith that it actually has caused me a nervous twitch: ‘e-meet.’
We are all guilty of it, sure.
But we’re also all guilty of failing to come up with a better alternative.
“Hi Maggie!” the inaugural email will invariably read. “Nice to e-meet you!”
I’ll shudder, and make a mental note to put in more effort in scripting a genius phrase that somehow manages to express my pleasure in meeting this person, without sounding like a 1997 film starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.
So here we are. Workshopping a replacement for ‘e-meet’.
Because here’s the thing, folks: email etiquette is just as important – if not more important – than real-life interaction in the modern world of business. Spelling someone’s name incorrectly, or accidentally CC’ing in the wrong person, are unforgivable offences. Heaven help you should you shoot off sensitive information to the competition…
Alongside the big questions like, ‘Do I have to accept my mum’s friend request on Facebook?’, or, ‘Is there any way to retract that email to my boss that was meant to be a joke? (Even if I sell you my kidney?)’ – the question on how to greet strangers online is a tough one.
I mean, you can’t not greet a new friend, right?
First impressions last. The initial cyber handshake is very, very important.
If I’m emailing a super-important client, I’ll dawdle over the intro for ages.
“Hi …” I’ll write, and backspace it.
“Hello …” I’ll try again, and backspace it.
“Dear …” Ugh. What am I, Judy Blume? Nothing seems right.
And then you get to the niceties.
“It’s such a pleasure to meet you …”
Seriously? Can we say that? ARE we meeting them? If we walked into their office Christmas party and stared around the room, could we place this anonymous pen pal, and approach them with a hand outstretched? No way. It would be like walking into a room of blind dates.