This week I’m writing email tips — what do you want to see?

Ramit Sethi

What kind of emails tips do you want me to write about this week?

Ever since college when I started emailing CEOs and random people I saw in magazines/newspapers/online to take them out to lunch, I realized I was a little weird. But I also realized I had learned how to write an email to get Very Busy People to take meetings (why would you want to ask anyone to lunch?). So this week, I thought I would share some tips on how to email anyone and get a meeting.

This could be useful if you’re looking for a new job, trying to start a business, or just want advice about a new area you’re interested in.

So far, I’m planning to write about…

  • How to write an email to get a meeting with anyone
  • Piss-poor emails I’ve gotten about meeting up that Very Busy People will ignore

What would you like to read about? Leave a comment here.

[Update]: Ack, I jumped the gun on this considering it’s Thanksgiving week. Sorry, everyone. I’m going to hold off on this until later, but I promise it will be worth it. If there are specific types of email tips you want to see, I’ll use the comments to guide my email series.

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  1. Laura

    Ooh. Want both please, as I am just starting up a service-based business of my own.

    And please, for the love of GOD, tell people how to use email subject lines correctly.

  2. Aaron

    Composing a persuasive email to a coworker and/or boss. In particular I would like to hear your ideas on how to persuade someone to do something they would rather not do.

  3. Ramit Sethi

    Aaron, I want to help but that’s really vague. Can you be more specific?

  4. Cameron

    Bullet format vs paragraphs when and why? AND…
    Phrases, words, topics, etc. that will be sure to get your e-mail deleted in seconds.

  5. Cameron

    1) Bullet format vs paragraphs when and why?
    2) Phrases, words, topics, etc. that will be sure to get your e-mail deleted in seconds. 3) Does your e-mail style change depending on the type of person you’re e-mailing (CEO vs. College Professor)? I would assume it does, but how so?

  6. julio guerra

    I think it would be great to learn how I can contact busy people that never have the time.

  7. Laura

    I’m considering relocating and I would like to see advice on how to apply with a company that isn’t hiring at the moment.

  8. Carlin

    How about some cons about random emailing (even if it’s well written)? And maybe listing some of the people you emailed and responses you got, since I love real life examples.

  9. Adam

    How about on starting a successful business?
    Or how to get a girl?

  10. Willy

    I always find that very busy people, such as college professors, will answer your first question in an e-mail, but will ignore all other questions. I realize that it’s essential to keep things brief, but if I have 3 questions, I’d like 3 answers. How do you ensure that your entire e-mail gets read?

  11. Carol

    I’m really looking forward to this article! Maybe it will develop into this, but what do you converse about during these lunches? “So tell me how you got started” only seems to go so far (and is a little rusty/cheesy)….
    And yoy know, I never emailed you back to thank you for such a nice response to my resume. Thanks!

  12. Shayla Price

    Should you email press releases to journalists or interested individuals? If so, what should be the subject line? Thanks.

  13. Erik

    I’d really like to hear more about effective e-mail writing, and would like to second Laura’s suggestion about subject lines. I’m an American working in the Seoul office of a multinational. You wouldn’t believe how many perfectly fluent English speakers send me e-mails with subject lines like “Hi Erik.” Most of these e-mails then go through a paragraph of pleasantries before getting to the meat. E-mail etiquette isn’t inborn and needs to be taught.

  14. Sanjay

    Hi Ramit,

    I will appreciate if you could share your email writing tips across.


  15. Dennis

    I teach German and French at a Cleveland-area public school where we have meetings about meetings.

    Unfortunately the district is PC-only and runs Lotus iNotes. I have received negative feedback on what I perceived to be succinct and relevant emails. Bullet points, cogent and short subject lines and specific questions–I’ve been told that these are perceived as “techie” arrogance and condescending.

    Your suggestions for dealing with people whose ignorance of technology makes it difficult to communicate effectively would be fantastic!

  16. johnny

    hi ramit,

    i’m trying to start a marketing consulting business, and would be interested in tips on how to sell your services to a company who doesn’t quite know they need the service yet. finding people who work at the company on linkedin is the first step, but how do i turn that contact into a referral, which eventually gets turned into a deal?


  17. Jodie

    subject lines … what gets the person to open the email

  18. Josh W

    I’d like to read about ‘How to write an email to get a meeting with anyone.’–Thanks!

  19. aj

    I would like to know about retaining contact with those so important people. How do you keep yourself on their minds?

  20. J

    I’d like to see the query letter you sent to your agent.

  21. Steven

    It would be helpful to know the proper etiquette, specifically who pays and who decides the location

  22. K

    1) the level of formality in emails…when is it needed and how to best express it. The fine lines between a straight up letter and an informal note.
    2) How to best remind someone important…like a CEO…about an interesting conversation that you had with him/her sometime before so that they can refresh their memory and remember you (put a face to the email address).
    3) And of course, how to elicit a response without even meeting the person…but I’m sure you are going to cover that anyways.

  23. Vic

    Mentoring opportunities and networking are so important, but are definitely intimidating for me at first. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about sending that first request for very busy people’s time.

  24. Beth

    Tactics to use for negotiating a raise…

  25. Darrias C

    they’re both really good ideas, I always wondered how people are able to do that

  26. P

    I’d like to apply for freelance work, but the companies I have in mind do not neccesarily post these jobs. How would you suggest I go about contacting them? What should i put in the subjec line?

  27. Ryan

    How to get your point across in the fewest lines possible. The key with Very Busy People is brevity, but you obviously can’t be too brev…errrr, brief. I’ve gotten better after noticing that colleagues of mine only respond to the first question of an email with several questions, and generally do so with, “Yes, that’s fine” even if that’s not an appropriate answer.


  28. Joanna

    What about what to do once you get the lunch meeting? (Which questions to ask, how to make it feel more like a conversation/less like an interview, how to follow up from there, how to be taken seriously and not just be “the eager kid who emailed for lunch”?)

  29. Geoff

    It would be nice to hear your opinion on emailing as a follow up to a job interview/informational interview, things to say/discuss. Also, what the best type of email address to be used is, such as a last name first initial etc. Thank you.

  30. IBazaar

    How to write email to a potential partner? Most emails are tossed away and go to junk – how to ensure the email is actually read. For eg. We am creating a website (we are technical bunch with ideas but no marketing skills or time) and looking for someone who can market it.

  31. Jean B

    Great suggestion for examples of follow-up emails Geoff – I second that.
    How about a brief discussion about when an email versus a telephone call or even a hand-written note (call me old fashioned…) is appropriate. Is this in relation to age, position, industry, etc.?
    Also, in a professional environment, when is it o.k. to CC others, including managers and when is it a waste of time? Some guidelines would be helpful!
    I’m looking forward to this.

  32. panks

    i ramit,
    I would be happy to see your valuable suggestions on scripting mails to client(specifically offshore-onsite model scenario)
    for e.g. Sending mails to client to persue him that something can’t be done in way he wants but we have alternatiev ways to that.

  33. JW

    How about the ideal way to write an email which will inspire the recipient to accept the massive inheritance left to them by their long lost Nigerian uncle?

  34. Diana D

    How to get people to give you their budgets!!! The problem I have is that people come to me with things like: ‘Well, I need SEO and SEO content, what can you offer?” So I tell them all I have to offer and they say ‘It’s kind of expensive’ so I ask ‘What’s your budget?’ and they JUST DON’T GIVE IT UP!!

  35. Sudeepta Ojha

    How to write a brief email about
    – asking for a favor,
    – requesting for approval of business proposal
    – asking for quick answers for questions
    – providing appropriate and summarized information
    – writing to top management for new venture
    – writing for showcasing of the work
    – writing for buying time for work that could be meet deadline
    – writing appologizing of mistakes

  36. Paras


    When seeking a change of career, asking some bigwigs in the industry and emailing them to find out more information.

    Also, What to write as Subject in most emails… Short, Long, One word etc…


    Ramit, I like your approach. Seems like you get up and go. But a Question: What do you get out of all this advice-giving etc. I think it is admirable either way.

  38. Mark

    I just graduated from U of I Urbana-Champaign in Chemical Engineering and started my entry level job this past July. The job is going great and I’ve met a number of executives in the company for lunch already. The problem is, I don’t know how best to set up a meeting with people higher in the company (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.). I feel like I would need someone to introduce me. I could try the “Set up the meeting cause what’s the worst that could happen,” approach, but I feel like I would need something important to talk about. Maybe you could touch on this when you write about sending important emails. Any advice from what to talk about with someone at that level to how best to word the invitation would be great.

  39. vh

    How about what not to put in an e-mail?

    This morning my secretary, La Morona (you’ve heard of La Llorona? well, this lady is my university’s answer to that legendary figure), e-mailed me to ask if she could take Monday as a sick day so she could clean her house.

    Yeah, no joke.

    It gets better: Since I was telecommuting today, she proposed to forward my (presumably affirmative) answer to the DTA in the dean’s office as evidence of my approval.


  40. Sachin Parikh

    So, Ramit I recently fell acquired some new wealth. Over a bad circumstance (car accident) but everyone is okay. I am trying to figure out where to put this $50K and I sent off a request to get more info from Fidelity Portfolio Advisory Services (professional investment management for a 1% yearly fee). So, you would think they would simplify things. Instead I just got in the mail about 30 prospectus’ of different funds. I filled out a questionnaire that asked for basic financial background and prefrerence information. But, to send a bunch of prospectus…Worthless. This leads to my questions:
    1. Do you have a way of looking past the details and focusing on what’s important when looking at a prospectus of a fund?
    2. If you got $50K to invest where to begin.
    I know these are loaded questions so feel free to write or we can chat later.

  41. Melissa

    I’m really looking forward to this post. I’ve been wondering about how to do this myself as I’m looking to relocate back to my hometown (Pittsburgh) and would love to email people about how to find a job back there. Thanks so much for writing about this and I love your site.

  42. Rupali

    Hi Ramit,

    I need help in writing a general e-mail newsletter. Could you please describe what info. is essential and the format? I truly appreciate all the great articles and info you have on your site. Truly helpful.

  43. skabetti

    This is my first visit here and it looks interesting. Way back in the comments, Willy asked how to get people to answer more than one question in an e-mail. Willy actually answered his own question. I find the same situation, so I don’t send any more than one question per e-mail. If I have three questions, i send three e-mails. Takes a little time, but it’s how I get proper attention to each question.

  44. Sunny

    Would you please cover how to write to someone running a business in the field you are starting in but in another town, far enough away that they are not a potential competetor, in order to ask what they have done to be a sucess? Our business is computer repair, and we happen to be in a boom town where the nearest competition is 100 miles away. There wasn’t a computer repair market here two years ago, but there is now, we’ve been going at it part-time and are swamped. We have some people in mind we’d like to learn from, but they’re all half a day’s drive or more away, not exactly please come to lunch with us material.

  45. Dan

    I think this is great.

    Could you also include tips on how to stay in touch with people that you meet this way to further develop the relationship?


  46. Andres

    I was wondering when you were going to post the email writing tips article? I am extremely interested in your tips for targeting top level executives and CEO’s to solicit them for business. If you have already posted this can you please direct me to the proper link? I am not very tech savvy so I may have missed it. Thanks again and I look forward to your post.

  47. Daniel Greaves

    Your a genius Ramit. I chose you from my yahoo, and from what I am reading, I think i made a good choice! Do you give advise to small fuel dependent trucking business owners with considerable dept and no light at the end of the tunnel? Just curious. Thanks again. Daniel

  48. Mark

    I think this is a great idea. I would apply it to try to generate a mentoring relationship with someone in a field that I know little about. I also would be interested in maintaining this relationship.

  49. Kate Tracy

    How do you send an email to a person that you met at a conference, a month after the event took place? How do you re-introduce yourself and then ask them to lunch? And what if they are in another state an unavailable for lunch? How do you suggest initiating an email/penpal type relationship?

  50. Presh Talwalkar

    Great topic Ramit. Here’s my curiosity: suppose you read an awesome book and have some lingering questions for the author that you want to put on your blog or use for a project.

    What is the appropriate way to contact the author (directly, or through an agent)? What things can you say to make them likely to respond? How can you thank them if they respond?


  51. LeRoy Gardner

    Great series can’t wait to read it. I have been contemplating how to email two individuals specifically; Loren Siebert whom you can find out in your neck of the woods and Ray Kurzweil. One b/c I am studying arabic and he also studied it himself creating a cool company around his experience besides kicking ass in many other arenas and the other b/c he is well…wikipedia him it should be self explanatory. What approach would you use, I have some questions but I would like to make interesting/appealing for their time as well not just another neophytic adulatory interaction. Take care.

  52. Rich Goteri

    I am a writer and find it impossible to get agents to meet me. Can you help?
    Rich Goteri

  53. gekkonaut

    This one is a bit obvious – but you might want to mention the whole one-email-per-one-task requested method. It works pretty well!

  54. Nir

    I’m a high school junior and I think it’s never too early to build connections. I’ve sent a very limited amount of emails out to people I have never met but read about. I don’t think I’ve ever received a response though. How do I convince someone with bigger fish to fry that I am worth their time?

  55. Ryan Padgham

    A great topic!

    I’m just 17, but I don’t let that stop me from emailing important people. Already I’m in contact with with Senator Bayh, the dean of education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, and some important students at Indiana University who will help me out whenever I need it.

    My tip would be: Don’t be afraid of shooting too high in terms of who you email. You never know who you’ll get to know.

  56. Ananth

    Thanks Ramit for planning to write on this topic. I would like to know what is a good way to end an email to different people – regards, warm regards, thanks…. Are there any creative ways(funny) to end an email that would get the attention of the reader becuase that is what he reads at the end of the email. I understand you need a good subject for him to even open the email…