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Old 10-24-2014, 10:55 AM
gatitosmommy's Avatar
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Default business communications: too casual?

A job I had in the distant past involved dealing with business communications. Depending on the circumstances, business mail was addressed "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name" or "To Whom it May Concern." After moving from postal mail to email, in-person job to freelancing, communications became less formal, yet still businesslike.

A couple of years ago, I noticed a new trend, and recently it's become widespread. I first noticed this when Associated Content became Yahoo Voices, but now it's showing up on LinkedIn and various other places. Perhaps the old-fashioned formalities are no longer necessary, but I think business communications have become way too casual when people are addressed as "HEY."

Does anyone other than me see this practice as out of line?
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Old 10-24-2014, 11:50 AM
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I still use the same approach from my days working in a brick and mortar environment. All business correspondence - including emails - begin with Mr./Ms, or the generic "To Whom It May Concern" until the person in question grants me permission to use a first name.

"Hey" is fine for emailing friends, colleagues etc. IMO is it never appropriate in a business related correspondence that goes to a client, prospective client, or a vendor/supplier, electronic or not.
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:45 PM
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I've never said Hey in a work email. but I often say Hi. I only say To whom it may concern or other formal greetings on my cover letter. I would feel odd writing that in an email, just like I would feel weird saying "Hey."
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Old 10-25-2014, 07:29 AM
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Hmmm... I tend to be on a first-name basis with all of my clients from the first email. Generally they contact me first, though, so if they sign the first email, "Bob," then that's how I refer to them. I can't even think of a time where a potential, current or past client did not address me as "Michelle" at the first contact, either.

I've been informal with clients before. It's the ones that I've known and have been working with for a while, though; I wouldn't do that with a new client. I kind of feel like once we talk on the phone a couple of times and I know how old your kids are or that your wife is pregnant or other personal details, saying, "hey," isn't really a big deal. I think that culturally speaking, extended formality is no more appropriate than immediate informality in most situations.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:58 AM
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I'm a bit of a formality chameleon.

But I have never addressed an email "To Whom It May Concern" - that kind of comes over as lawyer-speak to me.

Dear Sir, Dear Sir/Ma'am, Dear Editor (or other job title) - all of those are good if I don't know the name. If I know the name I use the full name until/unless they start addressing me by first name only. First name terms tends to come pretty quickly, though.

But I wouldn't start an email with "Hey"...nope.
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:40 AM
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Thank you all for the input! I'd been wondering if I'm "over the hill and collecting dust"!

@Bean: Yes, i agree with you, it can be different if you actually know the person and are on friendly terms with him or her.
I was mostly referring to requesting jobs, replying to job ads, responding to work that's been submitted, etc.
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Old 10-29-2014, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatitosmommy View Post
A job I had in the distant past involved dealing with business communications. Depending on the circumstances, business mail was addressed "Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name" or "To Whom it May Concern." After moving from postal mail to email, in-person job to freelancing, communications became less formal, yet still businesslike.

A couple of years ago, I noticed a new trend, and recently it's become widespread. I first noticed this when Associated Content became Yahoo Voices, but now it's showing up on LinkedIn and various other places. Perhaps the old-fashioned formalities are no longer necessary, but I think business communications have become way too casual when people are addressed as "HEY."

Does anyone other than me see this practice as out of line?
I always start with "Hello," unless I am creating a cover letter or working with a brand new client.
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