Addressing a complete stranger is a supremely difficult task. One that can be fraught with anxiety and fear. Especially if you’re not the extroverted type.
However, I consider it to be an invaluable skill. Whether you simply want to get somebody’s attention or receive valuable input, it’s definitely a skill worth having in your toolbox.
So, how do you go about it?
The Art of the Ask
There’s no doubt about it; mastering the cold email is an art form. It’s a skill that I’ve managed to develop over the years. Many times, it’s allowed me to get an elusive quote or even land an interview I wouldn’t have gotten any other way. And it’s something that you can do as well!
I’ve written the following tips to help you on that path to mastery. You can thank me later.
You only get one chance at making a first impression. So, don’t ruin it!
When you’re introducing yourself, try and keep the following acronym in mind: KISS. It stands for Keep It Short and Simple. You don’t want to ramble on endlessly. Doing so will only get your email sent to the trash bin. Get to the point and get there quickly.
One thing I like to do is to try to establish some common ground. If you know people in common, try and lead with that. If you work in the same industry, use it as a leverage point to get them interested in your email.
You’re emailing this person for a specific reason. Make sure that it comes across as succinct as possible. Don’t leave them in the dark about what you want.
In my experience, it’s always best to be as direct and as honest as possible. Don’t beat around the bush. More often then not the person you’re emailing is very busy and will appreciate you being open about your intentions. And don’t think you’re not the only one asking; they’re probably used to it.
You’ve probably heard the saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well guess what? It’s true.
Therefore, always think about what you can offer them in return for what you want. Like I mentioned above, the person you’re emailing is probably very busy. Offering something in return for their time will imply that you care about what they offer you. It singles you out as a thoughtful and attentive person: and that’s always a good thing!
Don’t worry about breaking the bank or getting too fancy. Something as simple as shared information or even a cup of coffee will do the trick. And sometimes it’s just the offer that counts.
Always be proactive in your communication. Anything less than that will be ignored. Be specific about when and where you’d like to talk. Propose a time and place to meet. It can even be over the phone or a cyber chat.
The Follow Up
Once they agree to meet with you, it’s very important to follow up. Be sure to thank them for their time and consideration. This will go a long way in establishing good will and further communication.
Mastering the art of the cold email has served me well over the years. If you follow these simple tips, I’m sure you’ll find it as invaluable as I have. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten job prospect from a simple, honest and direct cold email.
You’ve got nothing to lose! And so much to gain! Please let me know about your experiences in the comments below.