When you’re trying to break into any industry, cold emailing can be a great technique to connect with people. I know it sounds scary, but with the internet as your confrontational buffer, it’s not so bad.
“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first."
- Frederick Wilcox
That quote genius-ly applies here. If you want to go after a big dream, you’re going to have to take a risk. You can’t expect things to magically fall into your lap, without you putting in any of the work. So, sometimes, you have to send out cold emails to people whom you’ve never met, or people you admire, or people you want to work for. Just know that we’re all in this together, so we are all taking those scary steps right there with you.
When you’re finally ready to send out those cold emails, here are 3 keys you should know:
1. Be Brief
You want to keep your emails as short as possible. There will be a few rare people who will receive a novel-length email, and happily read it; however, most people won’t. Just seeing visually, a super long email that comes in, may cause people to ignore it. The people you admire, the ones you are emailing, are likely very busy. So to maximize your chance of response, try to keep your email brief. Get to the point as quickly as possible, and you’ll have a better chance of receiving a response.
2. Be Complimentary
It’s important to show this person that you have done your homework: you know who they are and what they do. Nothing turns people off more than an email that is clearly a mass email. It’s also insulting to ask for help from someone whom you know nothing about. So do some research on the people whom you choose to reach out. Know what they do, and why you specifically want to talk to them. Compliment their work. Compliment a specific piece of their work—don’t just say “I really love your work”—say something like “I really love the poster you designed on Glee’s episode last week. the typography was beautiful!”.
3. Be Specific
This is THE most important key to a successful cold email. Be as specific as possible when you ask your questions. Don’t ask generalizations like, “can you help me? I want a job!”. Be specific and say, “what do I need in my portfolio to show I am the right fit for this job”. or “What is the application process to break in to this industry?” The more specific you get, the better chance you’ll have for a response. This is also important for YOU as well. What specifically do you want from this person? What is your specific dream job, and what specific next steps do you need to learn to get there? The more specific you get, the faster things will start to happen because you’ll start to understand the specific steps you can take to get there.
BONUS #4 Detach Yourself From the Outcome
When I send out cold emails, I tend to get obsessed with the outcome. “OMG! Are they going to write me back??—Did they like my email?—Do they hate me?” That’s when I need to take a good ol’ fashioned chill pill. Any email you send out will not determine your success on this journey. As long as you continue working towards your dream, it will all work out. So it’s important to detach yourself from the outcome of every email. Say to yourself, “Ok, cool! I did it! Now I’m going to move on to the next task.”
It isn't productive to worry about the outcome. If this person doesn't respond, someone else eventually will. So put it out there, and then move on.
Let me know your experience with cold emailing in the comments below! Do you hate it? Do you love it? Does it work wonders? Let’s discuss!