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,
P.S. I dropped a handwritten 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.