If you haven’t heard yet, email is the most effective way to get in touch with any busy or hard to reach person.
Using emails over the last year, I’ve been able to meet with a bunch of my heroes in the blog world, interview startup founders about their products, and, by reaching out and meeting the right people, used email to land a job within two weeks of moving to New York City.
You can do the same thing by using the framework outlined below, but first let’s talk psychology.
In my experience, these people love giving advice to anybody who is actually interested assuming the listener will not only listen to what they have to say, but take action on it.
When I go to these meetings, I ask direct questions about things I’m struggling with, then I put their advice into practice and email the person a week or two later with the results of their advice.
By using this email framework, you’ll be able to set yourself up as that type of person, too.
Here’s how to write the perfect email:
1. Start with a familiar heading
Use “Hey” or “Hi” instead of Dear, and then their first name. If you’re too formal in an email you’ll come off as too robotic, and we’re trying to connect with people here, not robot them.
So unless you’re emailing a doctor or a judge, use their first name in the intro.
2. Open with a specific compliment
When I was trying to meet with people in the advertising industry to learn more about what it takes to get a job as a creative director, I would pick a specific advertising company (using the guide on AdAge, you can also use LinkedIn, TechCrunch, or any site that lists companies in an industry).
Then I’d Google the company to find out what specific campaigns they ran, find the campaigns, form an opinion about one of them, and write that opinion in the first line of the email.
Having a specific compliment will make it obvious to the high value person that the email was directly targeted toward them, and not some random email blast. This will make them way more likely to respond.
3. Ask for what you want
After you give them a specific compliment, introduce yourself quickly, point out how you found their info so you don’t come off like a creep, and then ask for what you want.
Normally I ask for a coffee meeting if I’m in the same city, or a phone call if they’re somewhere far away.
People that are busy want to be able to give a quick answer, so make it easy for them to say either “yes” or “no” to your request, to make sure the message doesn’t get stuck in their inbox.
Also, keep the first message under five sentences, because when busy people get long emails, they either press “mark as unread” and never get to it, or delete them on the spot.
Here’s an email that will get you a meeting with somebody in your dream industry for an interview. Feel free to modify and use this script:
I saw the ads your agency is running for Vans in the subway, and really like what you’re saying — my favorite one was X. My name is Alex Berman, and I found your info on LinkedIn.
I’m really impressed with your career path, and would love to get your advice for 15 minutes on the best path for a new graduate to take to become a Creative Director.
Do you have time for coffee in the city later this week? I can work around your schedule completely.
Leave a comment and let me know: If you could contact one living person and have them respond, who would it be and why?
|Written on 1/12/2014 by Alex Berman. Alex Berman runs Following the Rules, a site that shows you how to live a richer and more fulfilling life right out of college. Check out his free guide 20 Life Changing (And Cheap) Experiences to have in the Next Three Months and start dominating your bucket list.|
Photo Credit: bpsusf