Part 1 of a 3 Part Series – Impressing the hell out of those strangers over email

In today’s work environment, we all need to know how to market ourselves. If you want to truly succeed in running your own business, working for somebody else or even hunting for your dream job you really need to become an expert at networking.

There is just one problem: Our inboxes have turned into scary monsters. Totally. Out. Of. Control! People are increasingly being ambushed with unwanted messages, and they’re getting not so shy at hitting the delete key when faced with unsolicited emails. Often, you have only a few seconds to make a good impression.

I often work with my private coaching clients who ask how exactly do you do that?

How can you rise above the noise and make an impression? Your recipient will be asking themselves (albeit subconsciously) three questions to work out how to respond.

Yes these questions may hurt, but in a society where we have too much choice and too many things to do, people are rightly so becoming protective of their precious time.

I am not saying that somebody whose emails don’t pass muster deserves to be treated like a leper. It just means that armed with this knowledge you have a greater chance your message is heard and hopefully acted upon.

So consider these following questions and particularly if you are contacting a complete stranger.

Question #1 – Can You write well or well enough?

It may sound harsh, but most people don’t write very well. So when a well-composed email comes across my inbox, I immediately take notice. Why? Because I assume someone who can write well is also smart, ambitious and worth investing the time to connect with.

Get the basics right

Try to practice and implement all the lessons you learned in grade school English. You know grammar, spelling, and punctuation, do the best you can. Take care.

Proofread even if you despise doing it

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so take care. Proofread your emails if you’re reaching out to an important contact particularly for the first time.

It helps to read your message aloud. You’ll quickly hear the awkward parts.

Spell Check is your best friend.

Ditch text shorthand

Don’t even think about putting LOL into a business email. What this translates to is “please take my email less seriously”.

Think about tone

Tone can be tricky to express with an email, given there’s no face-to-face interaction. You want to be friendly and upbeat without coming across as overbearing or false.

You can use exclamation points, but do so conservatively and only after sentences that merit them. Don’t overdose on the smiley faces either-they scream tween!

Don’t skimp on capitalisation

if you don’t capitalise when you should, i guarantee you will rarely get replies. not capitalising the beginning of your sentences simply makes you look lazy. Don’t do it. Embrace that shift key.

Pick a professional email address

If you’re still rocking your it’s time for an upgrade. Anytime I see an email address for one of these dated domains, I instantly think the person I’m corresponding with isn’t too tech-savvy. It may not be a fair judgment, but given that I have about 30 seconds to make the call, it’s the assumption I (and others) settle on.

You should have an email address from or from a business domain (compulsory if you run your own business). And make sure to keep it clean with a variation of your first and/or last name. If I were using my old high-school email address for (no, I really had this email address but that is a whole other story) – I doubt I’d get many replies.

A few other tips to follow

  • Keep it short! If it’s more than 7 sentences, you’ve written too much. For direct personalities like me 5 is ideal. Use bullet points if you have to.
  • Don’t be overly personal. Bearing your soul to me in a first email is awkward and inappropriate.
  • If your text color is anything other than black, change it back.
  • Stick with a standard, professional font (times new roman, arial – yup those boring ones are best).

Look out for Parts 2 and 3 of this Email Series coming to your inbox soon

Amy Singe

Amy is the Founder of Sterling and Hyde, Coaching Females How to Lead from the Corner Office at She was named one of Dynamic Business Magazine’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2012. Amy is a business coach who helps aspiring female leaders break through their glass ceilings (in corporate organisations or in their own businesses). To earn the seat they deserve at that all elusive leadership table. Amy also is the founder and creative director of Sterling and Hyde, a women’s accessory brand specialising in their own range of Italian leather handbags, costume jewellery and fashion accessories.

Who am I? I’m versatile and chameleonic and paired with the right mate, can go from comfy at home casual, to slick and super professional. I come in all shapes and sizes but recommend you own me in 4 specific styles, forming the foundation of your go-to wardrobe. Yes, I’m a T-shirt!

The 4 styles of T-shirts


#1 – Slim and Structured


Weathered Pippi Stripe T-Shirt $60

I fit you snugly (but not too snugly) and I’m fitted through the body and arms. I look great with a round or boat neck in crisp, clean colours and stripes. My best pairing is with less fitted pieces like wide leg trousers and full skirts so make sure I don’t drape or bunch up.

#2 – Slouchy and relaxed


Just Female Gazo T-Shirt $60.37

I’ve got a round or v-neck and am a bit looser. I love to show off a little collarbone and look fabulous with a rolled sleeve. You can wear me hanging out or loosely tucked into skinny jeans, fitted skirts and dressy shorts.

#3 – Give me graphics!

ASOS Digital Print T-shirt $37.81

I’m a little bit different and like to be original. Look for me in a bold but simple design, nothing fussy or overdone. I look good fitted or relaxed and my best friends are cool printed trousers, leather pants and simple shorts.

#4 – Like fine wine, I get better with age


Amplified Ramones 74 Crew T-Shirt $34.03

I like to put my musical tastes right out there and proclaim my rock star status! I’m faded and might be a bit distressed (but in a good way!). You may have bought me at a concert back in the day or found me at a market or on eBay. I love a contrast and although I look good with your favourite faded jeans or denim shorts, I look hot with a pencil skirt and/or a tailored blazer.

Still think a t-shirt is a ho hum wardrobe piece? No way! Choose your own style and add the perfect t-shirt to your wardrobe. It’s a summer essential!

Are you a t-shirt fan? What’s your favourite look?

Featured image credit

Its only been getting colder since my last handbag update so I’m sure many of you have been contemplating packing away your summer handbags and investing in a new winter bag which will last the distance! So this time instead of bags named after how you carry them lets have a look at handbag styles named after their shape.


The hobo handbag

A hobo handbag is a soft body, crescent-shaped bag. These bags can be dressy or casual. Most hobos feature a top zipper closure. They are great for that laidback feel and were popular with the modern day hippie (or classy hobo) Sienna Miller


The frame handbag

A frame bag is a bag that has a hard frame, rather than a soft body. Frame bags come in assortment of shapes, including satchels, doctor bags and bowling bags. They are having a resurgence mainly thanks to the TV show Mad Men!


The envelope handbag

An envelope handbag is a clutch that is shaped like an envelope with a fold-over flap closure. It may also have a shoulder strap usually of leather or chain material.


The wristlet handbag

A wristlet is a very small bag that has a very thin strap to wear around your wrist. It holds very little – often times less than a wallet. Wristlets have become popular in recent years, particular at night clubs when you don’t want to set down your bag.


The evening bag

Special occasion or evening bags come in a variety of different shapes and styles. They can be mini-clutches, drawstring bags, small shoulder bags or any other variety of handbag.

Other iconic shapes include:

  • Baguette – Long and rounded shoulder handbag resembling the namesake bread. It was made infamous by the TV series Sex and the City
  • Cigar Box – A small, boxy, hard handbag that was popular in the flapper era
  • Kelly bag – A classic Hermes style named after Grace Kelly. A large, structured bag with distinctive hardware closures.

The style of handbag you choose depends on what you need to carry, where you are going and your personal style preferences. Many women have a favourite that they carry almost daily, only switching to a smaller or larger bag for special occasions or circumstances. Other women own dozens and switch their bag on a regular basis, matching it to their outfit, destination and mood.

Which handbag style is your favourite?

All handbag images courtesy of

The clocks are going back and the weather is definitely starting to change so it’s about now that many of us may be thinking about getting a new handbag.

As summer’s smaller colourful bags are getting stored for winter it might just be time for an update.

So here are some tips to help you distinguish your clutch from your tote and make sure you get the right bag for the right occasion.

Handbags obviously come in a variety of shapes, styles, fabrics and colours. They are designed not only to hold your belongings, but to accessorise your look. And typically they are defined by how you carry them or their shape.

In this weeks article we explain the types defined by how you carry them.


The Shoulder Bag Shoulder bags come in many different shapes and sizes. They are sometimes compartmentalised with different pockets both inside and out. These handbags are designed to be worn over the shoulder. Shoulder bags are very practical and perhaps the most common bag carried by women.


The Clutch A clutch is a type of handbag that doesn’t have handles. It can be “clutched” in your hand or tucked under your arm. Throughout the history of handbags clutches have been relatively small and often reserved for evenings. Clutches can be soft-bodied, framed or even hard-cased. They come in variety of shapes and materials, including leather, silk, patent leather and sequined fabrics.


The HandheldObviously, these handbags are designed to be held by hand or draped over your arm. They feature a small handle and are not intended to be slung over the shoulder. They are often smaller than a shoulder bag, but bigger than a clutch. Just to confuse you handheld bags are also often called Totes and often come with longer straps to wear over your body or shoulder.


The Tote

These casual bags are often made from canvas, but look even better in leather. Tote bags are open at the top and usually have only one main compartment.Tote bags are good for the beach, outdoor activities or shopping. Again just to confuse you tote bags are also often called Shoppers.


The Crossbody

Crossbody handbags are also sometimes called “messengers” because of how they are worn, and because they are what the postman used to carry. These handbags are great because you can’t easily lose them! Worn across the body, crossbody bags come in a variety of styles and sizes and are commonly worn by students, mums who need to be hands free and travellers.


The Backpack These bags have two straps and are intended to be worn on your back. They are normally made of nylon, but they can also be canvas or leather. Backpacks are also great for travelling, hiking, camping and other activities.

Next time we explore the handbags named by their shape.

Image credit: All handbags and images courtesy of Sterling and hyde

If there is one thing every woman needs in their work wardrobe it’s a functional yet professional work handbag. This piece alone is one of the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe as you not only wear but use it everyday. A well chosen handbag will also be a fabulous investment, which will stay with you for the test of time.

A well structured leather handbag will make you look more polished, feel focused and confident enough to conquer whatever your day has in store for you!

Here are some helpful tips to help you choose the right work handbag for you.

TIP 1: Consider investing in a leather handbag

In today’s times we have to be wise in spending our hard earned money, yes? Well scrimping on one of the hardest working items in your wardrobe just doesn’t make sense. You are far better off to invest in a leather handbag (with such a low cost per wear) and spend less on those super seasonal pieces.

Choose a classic leather handbag free of tassels, noisy hardware and large logos and you can’t go wrong.


TIP 2: Size and structure is important

Your work handbag should be generous enough to move items between your home and office without becoming too heavy or unwieldy. Your office handbag should be able to fit your iPad and perhaps an A4 folder but not so big as to be able to fit the kitchen sink. Your back will thank you for it!

Structure is important too. Unstructured slouchy hobo bags are great for the weekends but I suggest you carry something around which is a little stiffer and more structured for the office. Nappa leather handbags are a great option here as they are highly structured and great for protecting all your high tech toys too.

For those commuting to and from work, a bag with a choice of straps to wear across your body and also on your shoulder is best.


TIP 3: Pockets = Organised

A great work handbag needs to be well organised. Look for handbags with at least one external zip pocket for your iPhone and keys. A few internal pockets also help to keep items such as pens and business cards off the bottom of the bag.


TIP 4: Express yourself through colour

The right colour depends on your working environment, but using colour is a great way to spice up and revitalize any repetitive or bland outfits. If you want to make a statement consider choosing a bright coloured leather handbag in a classic colour such as red, navy or burgundy to pair with your daily corporate fashion outfit. More classic? Then go for black or tan as they are always in fashion and can mask stains easily.


All handbag images sourced from and

All other images sourced from