Getting responses to “cold call” networking emails

With “cold call” networking emails, the people you are reaching out to will not be expecting your email. What can you do to make sure that they not only read your request, but respond?

1. Use a clear and direct subject line: To reduce the risk that your email is punted straight to your recipient’s trash/spam folder, start off with a brief but clear email subject line, such as “Haas student reaching out to learn about [company].” Try to share any connection in the subject line.

2. Introduce yourself: Explain who you are in a couple of short sentences. Details to include are your name, school, specific career/industry interests, and why you are interested in their industry. Let them know how you found their contact information too.

3. State your purpose: Let them know why you emailed them specifically – what kind of information are you looking for, and how do you hope to get it? Whether it is engaging in a 15-minute phone call, grabbing a cup of coffee within the next two weeks, or having a few specific questions answered over email, give a call to action and let the person know what exactly it is that you are looking for. Make it clear that you are willing to work around their schedule, and that there is no obligation to accept. Provide your contact information, and let them know that you are open to communicating in a way that is most convenient for them. Our clients have been the recipients of more than a few random phone calls.

4. Check the details: Seemingly small things such as the time you send your email and some specific word choices can make all the difference! By using these subtle tweaks (such as bolding) that go a long way, you can make your email stand out even more.

5. Thank them: Be sure to thank the person in advance – gratitude is always important, especially when you’re asking for someone to do you an unexpected favor!