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Just as headlines sell stories, subject lines sell emails. And if yours is trying to get you an in at a company, or even an informational interview, you want to sell it right—or what’s the point of even crafting that perfect message?

As Muse writer Sarah Chang says, effective subject lines “appeal to one of two things: utility or curiosity.”

Well, you’re important, and you’re also interesting (I’m assuming), so your subject line should express that! Especially when you’re writing to a complete stranger and need to not only stand out in a sea of messages, but also convince this person to open yours and actually read it.

This is when stalking really comes in handy (in moderation, of course). If you can find something specific about your target you admire or something that recently stuck out to you, putting it as your subject line prefaces that you’re not just spamming said person, but that you have put a lot of thought into your message (and deserve a response!).

It would look something like this:

“Fellow European Traveler Who Would Love to Swap Stories”

Or this:

“Really Inspired by Your LinkedIn Article on Political Reform”

However, if stalking does not pay off and you can’t find the right hook, I’ve come up with a subject line for almost any possible situation:


Someone You Were Referred to by a Mutual Contact

“Referred by [Name] to discuss [Topic]”


Someone Who Went to Your College

“Fellow Alum From [College] Who Loves [Industry]”


Someone You Saw Doing Something Cool

“Your Recent [Article/Story/Interview] Blew Me Away”


Someone You Just Admire

“Completely Agree With Your Thoughts on [Topic]”


Someone in Your (Desired) Industry

“Aspiring [Industry] Professional Looking for Advice From the Best”


Someone at Your Desired Company

“Aspiring [Position]—Would Love to Ask You a Few Questions”


What other kinds of subject lines do you suggest? What’s the most aggressive email subject line you’ve ever tried (and succeeded at)? Tweet me!