It’s important that all careerists acknowledge the power of cold emails. Once you become persistent and determined to maintain a pace, you’ll learn that– whether you’re “someone” or not– you can get to anyone. When I lived in DC in 2009, my mind was blown by how many complete strangers were willing to go out of their way for me, all because of a brief cold email. And while I don’t encourage this as a full-on strategy, it’s important to appreciate it as an excellent starting point to build your network.When you identify a list of interesting people that you’d like to add to your network, consider opening the e-door through the following steps:
1. Let them know where you found them. The person you email is likely going to be more comfortable if you let them know where you found their information. Example: “Hi x. I found your name while researching x, and thus I hope you don’t mind me contacting you.” This shows the person that you’re not just emailing anyone, you’re emailing them for a reason of mutual interest.
2. Identify where your interests or passions align, and flatter! Clearly, you have a genuine interest in this person’s career, which means that you automatically have something in common. Always let the person know what fascinates you about their work, and identify where your passions align. What’s great about this is that they’re going to feel flattered, and you were able to flatter through a very genuine and engaged place. I’m all about that. For example, ” I found your work in x arena very interesting, as I’ve spent the past few years voraciously reading about x.”
3. Ask for their advice over email or coffee (NOTE: Never ask a busy person to lunch). I always encourage clients to end the email suggesting that they drop by for a cup of coffee at the person’s convenience. The key here is to make it easy for the other person to say yes. For example, “I’d love if you could lend me the benefit of your knowledge on x over a cup of coffee. I could drop by your office or meet you anywhere at your convenience. If not, I’d love a quick phone call.”
***Advanced tip: if you’re cold emailing over a job you applied for, you can always say you’d like to speak more about how you can “stand out as a candidate.”
4. Harmlessly attach your resume. A lot of clients tell me they feel pushy or presumptuous when they attach their resume to a cold email. If this is the case, you can always say you’ve attached your resume so that “you have a better idea on my background.” This ensures the person won’t feel like you’re demanding a job interview or that they pass your resume along. They simply have it, which will come in handy later when they opt to pass it around without you even needing to ask.
5. Realize there is a benefit for them to speak with you! Many seasoned careerists realize that, while you may be young or inexperienced, you won’t always be that way. Millennials rule the world, and senior employees understand that building their network with young talent allows them to opportunity to reach out to them later, when they have risen in the ranks. I spent many nights in DC wondering why White House staffers and Pentagon officials were willing to meet with me, but since then, they’ve asked many a favor of me– and I have happily delivered! And on a more greedy note, job seekers and networkers often forget that some companies offer their employees referral bonuses, and thus– if you have a nice resume and a personality to boot– the recipient of your cold email could see you as a cash generator for them!
There are a million more little tips that I’ll continue to share about networking over email, but this will get you started!