You’ve probably used a referral to ask a stranger for an informational interview or a chance to talk about your business. If you make your initial contact by email, please avoid the following common mistakes:
- Burying the name of your mutual acquaintance in the body of your email
- Not making it clear immediately what you’re seeking
- Not identifying yourself clearly and succinctly
- Putting the burden on the other party to follow up
Let’s flip these mistakes to get a list of best practices.
1. Highlight the name of your referrer
When I’ve got a referral, I often put the referrer’s name into my subject line. For example, “Allan Loomis referred me” or “Allan Loomis suggested I talk with you.” The familiarity of that person’s name raises the odds that the recipient will open your message.
2. Quickly tell your reader what you’re seeking
3. Identify yourself briefly
People are busy. They don’t want to read a long email to figure out what you want from them. Open with a line such as “Allan Loomis suggested I contact you for a brief informational interview about how you manage your investment research needs.” Then, and only then, should you give a brief self-introduction.
4. Take the initiative to suggest some times when you and the recipient of your email can connect
Nothing stops you from writing “I look forward to hearing from you.” But don’t expect your recipient to follow up. The burden is on you because you’re the person requesting the favor. I increasingly find myself writing “I will call you next week to follow up.”
Pay attention to these tips and you’ll increase your odds of success whether you’re marketing yourself or your company.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.