October 11, 2012

Four Tips for Writing an Unsolicited Email


At Contactually, we know that foddering new relationships is just as important as strengthening your connections with the people already in your network. However, in a world plagued by constant connectivity, inbox overflow, and a tendency to ignore email etiquette, how can a person reasonably expect to create a relationship through email -- especially without an introduction? If you follow these four tips, you can make sure that your "cold," or unsolicited email, receives the attention that it deserves.

1. Tailor and personalize your email. While this step might seem somewhat obvious, you must devote extra effort to this step when writing your cold email. Extra personalization efforts help ensure the reader that this message is relevant to their career or qualifications and is intended specifically for them. That will increase the likelihood that they'll open it and respond.

2. Be direct. Your email should be no more than five sentences in length, which helps ensure that you're making your point as efficiently as possible. If you can't do this, reread your email and remove any superfluous information. That includes any irrelevant personal data, or generic and superficial questions like "How is your day going?" Chances are you aren't truly concerned and your reader will know that. Don't worry -- you'll have plenty of time for in-person pleasantries if your reader is receptive to your email.

3. Give a little, get a little. Make it clear to your reader what it is you're asking of them, and what it is that you have to offer in return. People love getting things, whether they're tangible or not. Your return offering could be as simple as a positive Yelp review or help with social media outreach, or even some company swag like stickers or a company t-shirt. This is a great chance to be creative and a great way to create some unofficial brand evangelists in the process.

4. Present a clear call to action. Be explicit when it comes to suggesting next steps. While an email is a great medium for introductions and first steps, you'll surely need to set up a subsequent phone call or in-person meeting. Simply asking a person if and when they would have time is much less effective than putting all of the details in place for your reader. Suggest a date, time, length, and contact method in your email and you're more likely to get a confirmation or another suggested time. You can even be as explicit as telling your reader that you'll plan on following up with them using a phone number or a Skype username at a set time.

If you keep efficiency and generosity at the front of your mind (and fingertips) when writing that unsolicited email, you're bound to get the best results. The more time you save your reader and the more you can offer them in return, the better! Do you have any tips when it comes to sending unsolicited emails? What is your strongest piece of advice?

So after you've written your cold email -- what do you do to follow up? Download our Follow Up Cheat Sheet below: