Making small talk with strangers is one thing. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by speaking up in a meeting full of important people you don’t know is another. And putting yourself out there and extending a “Hello, hi, you’re awesome” note to someone you admire is yet another one completely.
Sometimes, though, it’s the practice part of this equation (and not necessarily the resulting correspondence) that counts.
Here are five templates to help you contact anyone you admire:
1. Your Boss’ Boss’ Boss
You and your manager have a solid working relationship. She trusts you and doesn’t micromanage; as a result, you aim to be accountable, productive, and effective. You’ve gotten to know her boss a little bit and feel comfortable around her. However, your boss’ boss’ boss is a different story. You’re simultaneously inspired and intimidated by her. Bite the bullet and go for it:
I’ll keep this brief, as I know you’re as busy as ever: Would you possibly have time to chat with me over coffee or lunch sometime in the coming weeks? I’m eager to hear more about your work on [item] and wondered if you’d be open to a few curious questions.
Please let me know!
2. The Speaker at a Networking Event
Not only have you been making it a point to regularly check out official networking events that interest you, but you’ve also managed to make quite a few connections along the way.
Your LinkedIn contacts are growing, and you’re starting to understand why everyone always talks about the importance of your professional community. At the next event you attend, you find yourself so taken with the main speaker that you absolutely just have to meet him (if only to praise his words of wisdom)!
I was fortunate to attend the [Event Name] on Monday night—your talk really stood out to me! I was especially intrigued by what you had to say about [topic]. I don’t typically feel compelled to reach out like this, but I felt it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t. No need to respond—I simply wanted to express my gratitude and let you know how much I got out of the event.
All the best,
3. The CEO of a Company You Love
You’ve always been interested in the inner workings of a business. It’s not that you want to start your own company, but you learn best when you get a glimpse at how CEOs got their start. Plus, you’re just so obsessed with the brand that getting in touch with the organization’s founding partner would literally just make your year.
Assuming this leader receives a lot of notes from perfect strangers, try to find an email address on the company site; that’s probably a better bet for a response than an online form or LinkedIn message.
I’ve been following [Company] since the beginning, and it’s been exciting to see you grow! I recently read an article where you were quoted as saying, [“quote”], and I was wondering how you got turned on to that way of thinking.
As an advancing [industry] professional, I’m always excited to learn more about how this all works. If you have time for a short meeting, that would be great—but email is great too.
4. The Social Media Influencer
You’ve been liking every Instagram since practically day one before the number of follower’s reached the 100,000 mark. Now, you’re just one of tens of thousands of people to double-click the image and one of hundreds to write a witty comment. The truth is, while someone else might advise against reaching out to this type of person, if you want to say hi, I think, why not?
Try a private message if you can’t find an email.
You’re clearly killing it on [social media platform]—and I know I’m far from the only one who’s told you this, but nonetheless, I wanted to say hi and let you know I’m inspired by your personal brand. Looking forward to seeing what you do next.
5. The Person Who Has Your Exact Dream Job
You’re currently coasting at work with both eyes wide open for more relevant, interesting opportunities. It may have taken you four years to figure out just what you’re meant to be doing, but now you at least know, and knowing is half the battle, right? You’ve still got work to do though, and you’re sure if you got to know the city’s top restauranteur, you’d have a clear idea how to put your plan of opening a restaurant into action—or at least relish an incredible conversation with an esteemed individual who’s sure to be full of knowledge.
I hope you won’t think I’m coming on too strong if I start by saying that I’m a huge fan of your [what this person does]. Seriously, I’m beyond impressed by how you’ve seemingly single-handedly transformed [big accomplishment]. As an aspiring [industry title] myself, I’d love to speak with you about how you got started and what advice you might have for an industry newbie. Let me know if you possibly have time to meet or if email is best.
These templates can be tweaked for almost anyone you want to reach out to and should open the door for you to contact anyone you admire (though you probably won’t have much luck getting responses from A-list celebrities).
Plus, think about it like this: If you genuinely mean what you’re typing and you truly are trying to extend a note of admiration, not hearing back really shouldn’t be the end of the world, right? Taking a couple of minutes to try and forge a connection with someone who inspires and motivates you (even if they’re none the wiser) is a good exercise, no matter what transpires.
Photo of person emailing courtesy of PeopleImages/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author