When I write the first e-mail in a what I hope to be a dialogue, I tend to write e-mails that may look long (>300 words), but (according to me) explain whatever I need to put across. For example, when looking for future academic cooperation with a company (think thesis), I explain what my skills, experience and interests are. I consider these as essential, so if I omitted them, I would be asked about them nevertheless, only later. In addition I attach my CV.
I have been warned that these may look too daunting for someone to read and to get invested in, that people are busy, and may skip it for a moment and then forget about it. And I may agree about that, and it is true it happens frustratingly too often, that I need to remind people to reply. On the other hand:
Sending the first mail in a complete form, hoping I did not forget to include anything important, seems the better choice as the other person can act on the information provided right away. E.g., if they already see a problem, they can refuse me right away, or if they're not the right person to respond, they can forward me to someone else. To me, this would save time.
I think it makes me look more professional and/or my request more thought-out. I've already put in enough work to write a meaningful, structured text that, hopefully, reads better as a whole compared to series of interchanged questions, answers and clarifications.
- Is there some general guideline to follow what the starting e-mail should and shouldn't contain?
- What if I talked to the adressed person already, only agreeing on communicating over e-mail?
- What if the other person already knows me (professionally), but has no knowledge about my incoming e-mail query?
This reminds me of the IRC rule: "don't say hello, but ask the question".
Note: the setting is western Europe, university/high-tech-biz environment.
Edit: Clarification on location: I'm based in Denmark, but sometimes I also deal with people outside, of course.