An email introduction is often your first and only chance to make a good impression—whether you’re following up on a LinkedIn referral, connecting with someone you met at a networking event, or sending a cold email in the hopes of finding new customers.

First impressions matter. But don’t let that intimidate you.

A thoughtful email message is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition and forge new business relationships. Here are a handful of ways you can polish your email introduction to help make a stronger connection.

1. Make it personal

In the immortal words of Dale Carnegie,

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

The average office worker gets 140 emails a day, according to research from Radicati Group—a number that’s trending upward. Given that, addressing someone by name is a low bar to reach for. If you don’t have the contact’s name, a little sleuthing can go a long way.

These days, divining a name can be as simple as looking the company directory up on LinkedIn. Scanning job titles on the employee list can help you figure out the best person to reach out to. Bonus points: Leverage their profile information to add a personal touch to your intro.

2. Do your research

One way to help your email stand out is to do your research to learn more about the person you’re reaching out to:

  • Check their social media profiles for mutual interests or connections you might have in common.
  • Did you look them up on LinkedIn? See what articles they’ve recently shared or commented on.
  • Check for articles they’ve published on sites like LinkedIn or Medium.
  • Scan recent company news, product launches, and achievements for details that might be relevant.

The insights you uncover can help show that you’re committed to connecting with them and have tailored your outreach. Be careful not to go overboard, though: You don’t want to get sidetracked.

3. Nail the details

Even with personalized details, be careful that your email doesn’t get too friendly or light on information: You don’t want to overreach and it’s important to remember that the main purpose of your message is to highlight how you and your business can be of service to them.

If you’ve recently met and you want to follow up on a discussion you had about a project they’re working on, reflect on your conversation to better understand what they’re looking for. Maybe you can even find additional information about the project online.

If you’re responding to a referral from a friend, reach out privately to get more information. Why did they think your business would be a good match? Do they have any other intel they can provide that might be helpful?

When your email is about something specific—whether that’s a project or a potential partnership—if you have access to specific details find ways to use them.

4. Close the sale

A good conclusion can be as important as the introduction, as it’s the last impression your reader will have before they move on. Consider ending with the next action they can take, or a promise that you’ll follow up by a certain date. This helps make the next step clearer for both of you.

Avoid common errors. Check for grammar mistakes and don’t forget to proofread, edit, and refine your email before clicking that send button—typos and poor grammar reflect poorly on your professionalism and quality of work.

Tell your story

We’ve looked at different ways you can personalize your email. But people don’t just want a bunch of details; they typically prefer to do business with people they actually like. So what can you do to help your personality shine through? By taking the above advice and wrapping it into one coherent story.

Keep your email brief and use concise language, but shape a message that aims to answer a critical question: “Why should I work with you?” A genuine, warm, and professional story helps inject personality into your email outreach. This can go a long way toward leaving a favorable impression at the start of what could be a great partnership.