4 Career-Boosting Things You Should Include In Every Introductory Email.

Laura Izquierdo

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Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

I’ve had to send a good few emails in my day. In fact, working in a corporate setting, I’ve probably written the words “kind regards” more times than I’ve pronounced my own name. But it’s only more recently since I went freelance and launched a new podcast, that I’ve had to increase my outreach to people who have absolutely no idea who I am.

And not only that, I’ve had to somehow motivate these dear strangers to want to speak to me; to either jump on a call or accept my invitation to feature on the podcast.

Thankfully, the majority did. I’m proud to say I have a pretty strong response rate. And I’ve never considered writing emails to be a skill. But following my conversation with the acclaimed speaker, and author of Build Your Dream Network, Kelly Hoey, for the recording of our latest episode, I learned that a lot of people struggle to successfully introduce themselves to others when networking online.

Our conversation galvanized me to want to share my approach. I hope these tips will help you stand out for the right reasons next time you reach out to a stranger online.

1. Find the balance

As is often the case, trying out a new approach often involves a mindset shift. You want to find a balance between feeling entitled and being deserving.

You don’t want to be the person who expects a response. People have busy lives and their priorities are unlikely to involve talking to someone they’ve never met before. They don’t owe you their time.

But you also don’t to fall on the other end of the spectrum. You don’t want to be someone who is so afraid to reach out that their web of connections literally spans as far as the eye can see — i.e. to anyone in their immediate vicinity.

You want to deserve a response. The difference with entitlement is merit; ‘deserving’ is something you become once you earn something. So if a response is what you’re looking for, be prepared to earn it.

2. It shouldn’t be random

One of the last things you want the recipient of your email to think is: “This is random.”

At the outset — explain why you’re not randomly reaching out. How did you come across them? What is it about them that stood to you? What motivated you to write to them?

This is something I learned in my first ever role after graduation. I was a big fan of The Apprentice (UK) growing up, and following years of academic studying, I was convinced I could never become a credible businesswoman unless I worked in sales.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I went into B2B sales. Whilst it wasn’t a long-term career plan for me, I couldn’t recommend the experience more. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in that role, not least how to write a good email.

People don’t like to receive cold emails any more than they want to take a cold call when they’re sat around the dinner table. So don’t send them. They don’t want to be 1 of the 200 people on your list. You need to transmit the fact that they and only they are the right person to be receiving this e-mail.

For example:

“I came across your TEDx talk, and your perspective really resonated with me. I found your take on [X] really interesting and I was wondering whether you have availability sometime over the next [specify a time frame e.g. couple of weeks] for me to give you a quick call? I would love to talk to you about [Y] because [Z].”

3. Explain the synergy.

Once I’ve explained why they interest me, and the motivation behind my message (e.g. to arrange a call/ to invite them to be a guest on our show), I explain (i) who I am, (ii) what I do, and (iii) why it’s relevant to them. The relevance is what I call ‘synergy’. It’s the connection between me and them.

If I’m reaching out about my podcast, for example, I explain (i) what the podcast is called, (ii) what it’s about, (iii) what topics I would therefore like to discuss with them on the show (obviously, these are topics within their area of expertise), and why these would be interesting to our listeners.

Again, this not only shakes off the sense that I’m reaching out randomly, but it also explains why they might be interested too.

It also shows you’ve done your research. I’ve been on the receiving end of a few emails which are so annoyingly vague that I get the impression that I’m going to have to ‘work something out’.

The other day, for example, I was approached by a law student who asked me for general “advice on getting into [a law firm].” Following an ambiguous question like this, I can’t offer anything more than the generic advice available on Google without knowing what role he was applying to, in what location, the stage he was at in the process — was this cover letter advice? Interview advice? Assessment center advice?

Be specific. Explain which of their areas of knowledge you’re interested in knowing more about, and in what context.

4. Conclude with a call to action and a thank you.

I wasn’t aware of this prior to writing to article, but I’ve analyzed a number of my emails to spot the commonalities I think could be helpful to you, and I’ve found this:

I tend to include a broader question near the start of my email, and an explanation of “what to do next” near the end, should their response to my question above be a ‘yes’.

For example:

General question: “I’m writing to invite you to join us on our podcast. Is this something you might be interested in?”

Call to action at the end: “If you’re keen to join us, we would love to schedule an introductory call. Do you have any availability next week?”

The general question welcomes them to consider whatever it is your e-mail is proposing, and the call to action gives them a concrete ‘next step’ to act upon.

You want to decrease the probability that they’ll leave your email for later; you want the ‘next step’ to be so obvious that there’s not much for them to think about.

Before you sign off, make sure you’ve acknowledged the fact that they’re busy by thanking them for their time — although this should go without saying.

There isn’t one single way to write a good e-mail. In fact, the whole point is that any good email needs to be specifically tailored to the individual you’re reaching out to, so the form each of them takes will vary.

But these four things have helped me attain a pretty decent response rate and build some very valuable connections with a number of great people.

Forget the spray and pray approach, and maximize your efficiency by focusing on quality with these four pieces of advice:

1. Find the balance.

2. It shouldn’t be random.

3. Explain the synergy.

4. Conclude with a call to action and a thank you.

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Content Creator, Storyteller & Co-host of the Thoughts from Limbo Podcast. Sharing stories designed to help you navigate the messiness of life. Join the conversation: https://thoughtsfromlimbo.buzzsprout.com/

New York City, NY
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