Here’s a universal truth: Smart people WANT to meet with other smart people.
Sometimes, it’s hard to actually get on the other person’s radar, though.
Short of showing up at their home unannounced and knocking on their door — which might land you with a nice restraining order — you have to find a more nuanced way to introduce yourself.
Which is why it’s so important to know how to send a perfect email introduction and not be one of those people who…
- Ask worthless questions. Example: “Dear Ramit, what should I do with my money?” Uh….read the last 12 years of my site or my New York Times best-selling book?
- Ramble. Example: “Hi I’m blah blah and I’m really interested in blah blah and once when I was a kid we went to the park and blah blah and…well I guess this got really long, so…yeah. Thanks for reading.”
- Only talk about themselves. Example: “Hi Mr. Senior Exec at a Fortune 100 company, let me tell you about my background, what I studied in school, what I’m interested in….”
So let’s talk about what makes a great email introduction — the kind that makes someone want to meet you as soon as they can.
4 traits of email introductions that get results
The traits are simple — but 99% of people skip them. Don’t do this.
Trait #1: Reached out through a warm contact.
You’re going to see a MUCH higher response rate if you spend some time finding a mutual contact between you and the person you’re emailing.
Even if you don’t think you have one, I HIGHLY suggest you search anyways. The results might surprise you.
Some good resources to check for mutual contacts:
- Facebook (Use the site’s mutual friends tool to see who you know in common)
- Twitter (Check out who they follow. Do they follow and engage with anyone you know?)
- LinkedIn (Leverage the site’s mutual connections tool to see who you both know)
- Their blog posts
- If they wrote a book, check the “Acknowledgements” page
Over the years, people have found mutual contacts with me through ALL of these resources.
Trait #2: Explained any similarities we had.
When you’re sending an email, you’re going to want to bring up something you have in common with the recipient.
Some examples of areas where you might share similarities:
- High school
If another Stanford alum reached out to me and seemed genuine, I’ll almost always take a phone call, or if convenient, a coffee meeting.
Trait #3: Reached out with a BRIEF, CONCISE EMAIL.
Check out this email I got a while back. It’s an absolute masterclass in bad email introductions.
On top of that, the email was an absolute MONSTER. It only got my attention because of how bad it was.
I’m going to touch on this more later — but for now, know that the person you’re emailing is probably very busy. As such, you’re going to want to make sure that your email isn’t wasting their time with any superfluous information.
Do that, and you’ll INSTANTLY eliminate yourself from their inbox.
Trait #4: Never outright ask for a job.
This is something you should NEVER do in an email introduction.
Even if you’re just asking for help, it’s best if you provide the recipient an out so they don’t feel like you’re demanding something from them.
It’s always best to end an email acknowledging how busy they are and that they shouldn’t feel pressured into doing anything. Here’s a great script to do just that:
“I understand you have tremendous demands on your time, and if you don’t have time to respond, no problem. But if you do, even a sentence would mean a lot to me.”
See why that works? This gives your email recipient an easy out if they’re too busy. Counterintuitively, it also boosts your response rate since you’re showing empathy toward their time demands.
NOTE: The people who have reached out to me weren’t always the most socially smooth people. But the very best showed a remarkable level of preparation, which anyone can accomplish — but few actually do.
As a result, many of these people stood out among tens of thousands of others who left comments/emails/tweets. Not only do the very best top performers have an uncanny ability to reach extremely busy people, but they can turn a one-time meeting into a long-term relationship.
And over time, that is worth more than almost any technical skill or amount of experience.
How to introduce yourself over email (the right way)
OK, let’s get into the specific. To meet anyone over email, follow these steps:
Step 1: Brainstorm a list of 10 people you’d like to connect with.
Start with these people: People who have a job title you’re interested in learning more about. People who work at companies you’re interested in potentially working at. And people who are doing interesting things you want to learn more about (e.g., you read about them in a magazine/blog post).
Step 2: Get their email address.
If you can’t find this you fail at life. But you read this site so I suspect you’re cool.
Step 3: Use the introduction email script below.
Here’s a template you can use to meet just about anyone along with analysis on why it works. Delete the bold text before you send it – unless you want to make a super-awkward first impression!
Subject: Michigan State grad — would love to chat about your work at Deloitte
My name is Samantha Kerritt. I’m an ’04 grad from Michigan State and I came across your name on our alumni site. [TELL THEM HOW YOU CAME ACROSS THEIR NAME SO YOU DON’T SEEM LIKE A CREEP.]
I’d love to get your career advice for 15-20 minutes. I’m currently working at Acme Tech Company, but many of my friends work in consulting and each time they tell me how much they love their job, I get more interested. [THE FIRST SENTENCE SAYS WHAT SHE WANTS. MOST PEOPLE ARE FLATTERED THAT PEOPLE WANT/VALUE THEIR ADVICE.]
Most of them have told me that if I’m interested in consulting, I have to talk to someone at Deloitte. Do you think I could ask you about your job and what motivated you to choose Deloitte? I’d especially love to know how you made your choices after graduating from Michigan State. [“MICHIGAN STATE” REINFORCES SHARED BOND.]
I can meet you for coffee or at your office…or wherever it’s convenient. I can work around you! [THE BUSY PERSON IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU. TREAT THEM ACCORDINGLY.]
Would it be possible for us to meet? [A BUSY PERSON CAN SIMPLY REPLY TO THIS WITH A “YES” — PERFECT. NOTE THAT I DIDN’T ASK FOR THE TIME/LOCATION AS THAT’S TOO MUCH INFORMATION IN THE FIRST EMAIL.]
One of the best things about this email is its brevity. There’s zero fat in the message and it just tells the recipient what she needs to know.
Get email scripts for any occasion
You now have both the tactics (the email script) as well as a strategic approach (what the busy person is looking for and how you can adjust accordingly) for great email introductions.
For even more, I have more email scripts you can “plug and play” today for free.
- How to ask for recommendations for people to talk to
- How to cold email a stranger for advice
- How to write a pitch for a consulting gig or a job interview
- And more!