If I knew your name, I would use it–either with the greeting "Dear" or in the first sentence of any message I write to you.
The same would be true if I phoned you. I would say hello and use your name in the first words out of my mouth: "Hi Tim! This is Lynn" or "Good morning, Barbara. This is Lynn Gaertner-Johnston." If you did not answer and I left a recorded phone message, I would certainly use your name in the message.
I would use your name because I am writing or talking to you–not to anyone else. I want to recognize you as an individual and let you know that I know who you are. You are not some random email address or phone number, not just one stop on my journey through a list of a thousand names. You are special.
It goes both ways. If you were to write or phone me, I would appreciate being called by my name. Hearing or seeing my name makes me feel as though you have contacted me–not just anyone in a directory. Being an informal American, I prefer "Lynn" to "Ms. Gaertner-Johnston," but I respond positively to both.
Yes, I like using names and having mine used. That is why I was surprised in a seminar I led for a sophisticated Seattle company last week. After reading one of my email tips about using the reader’s name, an attendee asked, "Why would you use the reader’s name? They know who they are. It’s right there in their email address." The question was echoed by others.
Several people seemed to view the use of the reader’s name as unnecessary and wordy. Some said they would use the reader’s name in their first email but not in replies or extended email exchanges.
It may be a question of style. My style is to connect with you, the reader. My goal is to communicate your value and individuality. By using your name, I attempt to do that.
What do you think? I wish I could call you by name, but for now "Reader" is the best I can offer.