Why should you bother? Until you know your client and she trusts what you're saying, you're effectively on trial anyway. Yet, that's the key point: at this stage, until your potential client knows you better, trust has yet to be earned, so any mistake is magnified. Therefore, this reality alone is sufficient reason to pay attention to the details and learn all you can to help make the best presentation.
You resolve that you don't want to hamper your efforts before you've even had a chance to present your proposal, so you're happy to put in the extra effort and consideration. Excellent! That's a good attitude to adopt.
Key tip: first contact between strangers can be fragile at the best of times. One or both parties may be suspicious of the other. Your job as key communicator is to break down this barrier first. You need to demonstrate that you have applied consideration and forethought.
Consider the following points:
- Given enough time, your first instinct is to try to find out more about this person, but you can't risk any possible misunderstanding getting back to the client. However, let's imagine you don't have the luxury of sufficient spare time to carry out an investigation. You must make a move now. You decide that you'll simply evaluate what you know and get the job done.
- People naturally like to be addressed in the way they prefer, so when writing or speaking to a specific person, when possible, do the background research to make sure you know the details.
- For example, we may use "Miss" to address an unmarried woman; "Mrs." to refer to a married woman, and perhaps"Ms." when communicating to a woman if you prefer to take no account of her marital status, treating her as an individual.
- Although, perhaps many women may prefer to be addressed using the neutral label "Ms.", the answer is not clear cut. Some women may consider "Ms." as slightly offensive, too formal, standoffish, and prefer "Miss" or "Mrs." instead.
- For the purposes of this article, your job is to simply to get to know the right form of address. If you already know which preference your female addressee prefers, you have your answer which to use. However, if you don't already know, or you are addressing a wider general audience, I suggest using the person's full name, normal email address, or "Ms." until or unless you're corrected. Many women simply won't mind so long as you're not offensive or negligent.
Key tip: when you know what form of address is correct, make sure you update your customer record database to ensure future communications can be maintained without any such little annoyances entering the negotiation space.
So you can avoid the possible problem altogether and use a first- and last-name combination such as:
- "Dear Jane Smith..." once on your first salutation line.
- Then use the personal identifiers "you" and "your", etc., throughout the body of your message.
Key point: don't look for a problem if there isn't one. Instead, simply give the matter some proper thought to start off a mutually beneficial business relationship.