Setting Yourself Up for Success with Cold Emails
No matter what stage your career is in — whether you’re a student or already excelling at your dream company — you should consistently be working to grow and strengthen your network. Some connections could lead to career opportunities and others to collaboration. Some people in your network may just inspire you to challenge yourself or take important risks.
The easiest way to make connections is through people you already know. A personal introduction from a friend or old coworker opens the door for a great potential relationship. Even if you don’t have a mutual friend, that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out to people who you admire and want to learn from... and it could lead to a new job or career direction too.
Writing a cold email may sound daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. But it’s one of the most important skills you can master. Many people find themselves asking "how do I write a cold email?" To make sure you set the best (virtual) first impression possible, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about writing a successful cold email.
1) Do your research
If you’re cold emailing someone you know nothing about, it will show in your message. Spend time learning about the person you want to contact and identify one or two specific reasons why you’re hoping to connect with this person. In your email, mention a specific piece of work they’ve done that you admire or highlight one of their recent accomplishments. Yes, this does mean that you need to put in the extra effort to personalize your emails. Writing one cold email and copy/pasting it to all recipients will not get you the results you’re aiming for.
2) Brevity is your friend
If your email could double as a novel, chances are high that the recipient won’t make it through your entire message. Be respectful of their time and keep your email concise. This way, the reason that you’re reaching out won’t get lost in a verbose introduction, and you’re more likely to actually hear back from the person you would like to connect with.
3) Be upfront with what you’re asking for
Make it clear what you want to learn from them — their career path or their experience in a certain field for example. Then, wrap up your email with a clear, direct ask on how you would like to connect. Maybe you’re hoping for a 15-minute phone call, or maybe you’re wondering if they have 30 minutes for coffee. No matter the request, by putting it in the last line of your email, you’re clarifying your desired next steps.
4) Always proofread
Proper grammar is a critical component of a cold email. You want to make sure you’re introducing your best, most professional self and sending an email filled with grammatically incorrect sentences sends the opposite message. Before sending, make sure you carefully read over your email at least twice to check for any mistakes. Want a second pair of eyes? Ask a trusted friend to give it a once-over before hitting the send button.
5) Don’t be afraid to follow up
If a week or two goes by and you haven’t heard back, don’t be afraid to reach out again. It’s very likely the person you reached out to receives hundreds of emails a day and it’s entirely possible that yours got lost in the clutter. Send a polite reply to your first email to follow-up and bring your message to the top of their inbox.
So now that you have the tips for how to write a cold email successfully, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. If you’re still staring at a blank email and unsure of how to begin, we’ve got you covered! The below template and example will help get you started and allow you to send that cold outreach email with confidence. Now it’s up to you to compile your dream contact list and start typing!
Cold Email Template
Subject: Choose something specific! Mention something you have in common or a specific achievement of theirs you admire.
Hi [their name],
My name is [your name] and I work as a [job title] in [your city]. I’ve been following the work you’ve done at [their company] and especially admire [a recent project of theirs].
If you have the time, I’d love to hear more about [one reason you’re reaching out to them] and [another reason you’re reaching out to them]. Do you have [15/30/45] minutes for [coffee/a phone call] in the next two weeks?
Using the above template, we’ve populated an example email below.
Subject: Hello from a Fellow NYU Grad
My name is Kristen and I’m a recent graduate from New York University’s Media, Culture, and Communications program. I’ve been captivated by CompanyXYZ’s latest campaign, and admire the honesty and approachability in all your marketing pushes.
If you have thirty minutes to spare, I would love to learn more about your path from NYU to becoming the Creative Director at CompanyXYZ. Do you have time for coffee sometime in the next two weeks?
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