The power of the cold e-mail is among the most beneficial aspects of the digitally-dominated (and, ever-increasingly so) world we live in today. It is my favorite form of networking. It’s free, no awkward conversation, and no fluff around what either party actually wants.
The downside of cold e-mails is that they, of course, don’t always work. You have to be patient. Here are some tips on when to use a cold e-mail, how to make it great, and start networking with people you otherwise have no idea how you’d meet! Below you’ll also find templates for cold e-mails in various situations, including the e-mail I used to get published in the Huffington Post.
When to use a cold e-mail
Simple Connections/ Fan Letters
Just by writing letters of gratitude or appreciation for what someone has done, you enter that person’s raider, exactly where you want to be. Here’s an example. A couple of weeks ago I went to a book talk with the editor of one of my favorite magazines. I loved hearing her speak and about a week later, hunted down her e-mail and reached out thanking her for her speech and all she does for women. It was a long shot and I left it open ended, but I genuinely wanted to thank her. She replied within an hour and we now are in contact! You just never know.
The exact e-mail I sent to this woman is included in my cold e-mail template guide below!
If you feel like you’re getting constantly lost in organically applying for jobs, try cold e-mailing companies you’re interested in. It certainly doesn’t always work, but it certainly could, and what do you have to lose? To up your likelihood, do some snooping on who within the company has something in common with you. Use LinkedIn and the company site to find out where they went to school or if you have a mutual connection. You don’t need to send your resume right away, I recommend getting their attention first. More on the e-mail itself below, but you can also check out this article on writing cold e-mails specifically to land jobs.
It’s a broad word. Really, it’s about wanting to come together with a person or company to do something awesome (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical definition). For instance, if you are part of a book club that focuses on a specific issue, say, women’s health, perhaps you’d like to collaborate with a health organization and volunteer as a group. Or, perhaps you’re a blogger and are interested in writing on a topic you’re not totally familiar with. Find someone who’s an expert and collaborate!
The exact cold e-mail I sent to the Huffington Post to get published is in my guide below!
In my post here I go in depth about planning a networking event. Those tips will be made easier if you’re comfortable cold e-mailing venues to host your event. I encourage you to explain to them your purpose, demonstrating your event is beyond a happy hour or party. Show them the initiative you’re taking and subtly include how this can benefit them as hosts (exposure, a potential regular meeting space, etc.) and see what sort of discount they can manage for you.
This comes most in handy when traveling and wanting to take advantage of learning opportunities. In this post I write about how you can actually improve your career on a simple two-week vacation, not having to travel for months at a time for something to really make a difference. Cheif among the strategies are touring relevant places while on your trip including companies related to your industry, schools or research centers related to your field of interest, and
The perfect cold e-mail
No matter how polite your e-mail is, interesting you are, or grammatically perfect you may be, the single most important part of writing a cold e-mail is to personalize it. Show the person you are writing that you are specifically writing to him or her for a reason. This is simple when you think about it. How many generic e-mails do you receive per day that would actually prompt you to reply to them? Probably not many. So don’t give the receiver with the same anonymous treatment. It definitely is more time consuming to research, but it. pays. off.
Short + Sweet
Keep the e-mails short and sweet. You’re already invading someone’s inbox, which is a pretty personal space! You don’t want to bore someone or look spammy. So keep it short and to the point. Ask when a good time to talk on the phone or a person would be. Don’t leave it open-ended about perhaps maybe you could meet one day. Be assertive and clear.
How to send cold e-mails
Make a spreadsheet (get yours below!) for all of your networking contacts and keep track of your cold e-mails on there. Keep track of:
- their name
- their e-mail
- the date that you sent it
- how you found their e-mail (tips below)
- their company
- A common link (alumni, connection, past company, etc.)
- their reply date
Check on your networking spreadsheet once a week to see if you need to follow up with anyone (cold e-mails or otherwise). I would do so a week after you’ve reached out and haven’t heard anything back.
Find E-mail Addresses
Some e-mail addresses will be easier to find than others. First, try the company’s website and/or LinkedIn. Almost everyone will have a form of contact with one if not both of those options. If those don’t work, you can do some detective work by piecing together the person’s name and company to guess an e-mail address (pro tip: use this genius document to help). Next, install Rapportive as a plugin to your Gmail. It tests each e-mail address you type in before you send it to see if it’s connected to LinkedIn. So, even if someone’s e-mail address isn’t directly on their LinkedIn, you can still find it depending on if it’s the one they use for their LinkedIn account or not. Or, try this website, which troubleshoots e-mail addresses to try and see if they’re valid.
There will be different schools of thought on this depending on who you ask. On the one hand, if someone doesn’t reply, then they probably don’t want to be bothered, especially again. On the other, you’ve already put yourself out there and e-mails get slipped through the cracks all the time, why not try again? What do you have to lose? I tend to agree with the latter view and feel that since you’ve already taken that first step, try again. It can’t hurt. Do keep track of who and when you follow up in your spreadsheet. I’d do so in 5-7 days after the first e-mail.
Becoming comfortable with a cold e-mail
Through all these steps, cold e-mailing is still one of those things that just takes time. It’s trial and error and building up your own confidence. What I’m trying to say is, it gets easier. Don’t give up because you don’t hear back from some people! It’s a game of chances and skill. As your skill increases, so will your chances.
For more tips and cold e-mail templates, sign up below. There’s a guide to cold e-mails in our Side Hustler Resource Library. I even include the exact e-mail I used to get published in the Huffington Post and the exact e-mail I used to connect with the CEO of one of my favorite magazines. Both cold e-mails, both successes.