That’s how many emails most “working professionals” send and receive every day.
The bad news? That’s a whole lot of noise—and it can feel difficult to pop out from the pile, especially when you’re trying to lock down a new job opportunity.
The good news? Most emails are poorly written, awkward, vague, or just plain boring. And when 99% of the incoming stream is blah-blah-beige, it doesn’t take too much effort to shine brighter than a disco ball.
So, what’s the best way to shine?
Simple: Be unexpectedly generous.
A quick story: A few years ago, I was courting a local marketing agency for a freelance copywriting position. I’d done a bit of copywriting for my previous employer, but the truth was, I didn’t have much of a portfolio to back up my skills.
After my informal interview, the director of the marketing agency told me:
“We like your spirit, but we just can’t hire you without seeing a few more writing samples.”
We shook hands and parted ways. I felt deflated, like I was a total rookie—a nobody.
But then, I had a life-changing light bulb moment. They wanted samples—I’d show ’em samples.
In fact, I’d do more than that—I’d send over some ready-to-use language for their soon-to-be-re-launched website, as if I was already part of the team.
I wrote a quick email to the very, very busy agency director, thanking her for taking the time to meet with me. And, oh, by the way:
“Here are 10 tagline options to consider as you revamp your brand. No charge. Enjoy!”
The director wrote back to say:
“These taglines are better than anything we’ve come up with on our own. Thank you. Let’s set up a meeting so you can get started on writing the rest of our site content.”
By keeping my follow-up note short and sweet—and by including a surprising burst of generosity—I caught the director’s attention, big time. It was a simple a-ha! that forever changed the way I ask for favors, pitch ideas, tease out opportunities, and introduce myself to people I want to know.
Here’s a simple email script to play with the next time you want to follow up with a very, very busy person—and show him or her why you’re The One for the job.
Fantastic to connect with you today. Here’s a link to my [resume / portfolio / writing samples], as requested.
And hey—during our chat, you mentioned that [name of company] has been struggling with [describe a problem the company is having].
I had an idea-flash on my drive home, and I wanted to share a couple potential solutions with you.
Check out the attached document for [a list of new vendors to consider / taglines that might work with your new brand / social media guidelines that have worked really well for my current team / insert brilliant and helpful solution here].
Hope that helps. Please consider me a resource—I’d love to be of service.
All the best,
[Your name here]
P.S. I dropped a hand-written thank you note into the mail for you a few moments ago. I know it’s old school, but I think everybody secretly loves snail mail. I know I do.
To Sum it Up?
When you want to capture an exceptionally busy person’s attention and shine brighter-than-bright in your follow-up note:
Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it classy. Most importantly: Be unexpectedly generous.
And you won’t just pop to the top of the incoming stream—you’ll make a lasting impression. A true connection.
And if nothing else? A new friend.
TopicsInterview Follow Up , Tools & Skills , Job Search , Syndication , Interviewing for a Job , Communication
Alexandra Franzen is an author and communication expert who helps creative people become clear and confident writers. Her specialty? Helping you find the right words to get noticed, get hired and get others excited about your ideas—immediately. Her refreshing tips on productivity, creativity and everyday woes—like inbox-clearing—have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Huffington Post, and on radio programs from coast to coast. Get free workbooks and scripts to unlock your inner wordsmith at: AlexandraFranzen.com.More from this Author