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Advice / Job Search / Networking

How to Write an Email That Busy People Will Love Opening and Responding To

There’s someone you want to connect with. Maybe the hiring manager at your dream company. Or a potential mentor who could unlock major doors for you. Or someone who’d be a perfect client for your copywriting agency—if only this amazing person knew you existed!

You know that sending a brief email to introduce yourself is (probably) the best first move. But you also know that everyone gets one million emails a day, so it’s hard to cut through the clutter with a basic “My name is…” template.

Here’s a fact: If you’re going to send an email to a busy person you want to connect with, you’ve got to do more than ask for something out of the blue. You’ve got to demonstrate—from your very first email—that you’re a valuable, generous, resourceful person to know.

Your reader should be left thinking, Whoa. This is a person who goes above and beyond. This is a person who is going to make my life easier, not harder. This is a person who I definitely ought to know.

Want a few examples to take for a test drive? Here are three templates that people love to receive—even those people who have no time for anything.

1. The “No Brainer Invitation” Email

Are you hosting a meetup for local business owners, nonprofit fundraisers, folks who work in marketing, or some other group of people? Throwing an amazing dinner party to mix and mingle with women in leadership positions? Use this template to get the event on his or her calendar.

Dear [person’s name],

We haven’t connected in-person before, but I’ve been following—and enjoying—your work for quite a while. We share a few colleagues in common and seem to run in the same circles!

I noticed that you recently [describe something the person recently wrote, achieved, created, did] and I wanted to extend my congratulations. That’s awesome!

Since you’re interested in [topic], I wanted to extend a “no pressure” invitation to you:

[Describe your invitation briefly]

Details are down below. Tickets are normally $20, but if you’d like to attend, just let me know and I’ll put you on the VIP guest list. No charge. My treat.

No pressure whatsoever, just an open invitation.

[Your name]

Why This Works

Everyone, even very busy people, love to feel special, appreciated, and sought-after. Plus, if you’re hosting some kind of meetup or event, you’re positioning yourself as a leader in your community or field—not someone groveling for a job or a favor. The “no pressure” line adds a feeling of ease and generosity and, ironically, makes it more likely that your recipient will say “Sure!”

2. The “I Solved a Problem for You” Email

Admit it: You’ve stalked this person for quite a while—in a friendly, non-creepy way!—and you know what’s been going on in his or her life. Better yet, you’ve got a hunch that you could solve a problem he or she’s currently experiencing. Reach out and deliver!

Dear [person’s name],

We haven’t connected in-person before, but I’ve been following—and enjoying—your work for quite a while.

In one of your recent [Facebook updates/tweets/press releases/articles on HuffPo] you mentioned that [describe something said about a new project, a new goal, an avid interest, a business struggle].

It sounds like you might be on the hunt for [a local videographer/a new intern to support you as your business continues to boom/people to interview for your new series], so I thought this might interest you: [a resource, a link, or a personal recommendation].

Hope that helps. And if you’d ever like to chat more (read: geek out) about [topic], consider me a resource.

[Your name]

Why This Works

People get hammered with pleading requests, demands, and “please help me!” emails all the time. But they rarely receive emails from people who purely want to help them. That’s why this type of email is almost guaranteed to get read (like really read, not just skimmed and forgotten). Can you inquire about a specific project, job, or opportunity that you want for yourself, later down the line? Of course. But start by offering something of value, with no “strings attached,” and let things roll from there.

3. The “No Response Required” Email

These three words—”no response required”—are like the heavenly music of angels to an overwhelmed person with no extra time in his or her schedule. It may seem counterintuitive, but by using this phrase in your initial email, you’re more likely to make your recipient smile, relax, breathe—and feel inclined to give you whatever you want! OK, maybe not whatever you want, but he or she’s more likely to actually consider it.

Dear [person’s name],

I’ll be brief.

You don’t know me, but you’ve inspired me in a big way. Because of your work with [topic/project/company/organization/magazine/newspaper], I decided to [something cool that you did].

You might not realize that you are inspiring people in this way, but you are.

No response required if you’re having a busy month (and I’m guessing you are!).

I just wanted to say, with all my heart:

Thank you.

[Your name]

Why This Works

Brief. Appreciative. No time-sucking demand or request. Congratulations: You just created the most delightful email this person’s going to receive all week! You’re quite likely to receive a response, especially if you’re writing to someone who doesn’t necessarily receive a lot of public praise or recognition (think: the director of a local charity or a journalist at a local newspaper). If you don’t hear back, for whatever reason? Follow up with a second email and make a more direct invitation or offer (see: templates above).

When you’re building professional relationships, it’s always good to have a clear intention in mind—“I want to get hired,” “I want to collaborate,” or “I want to get booked to speak”—but rather than state your agenda outright, in your very first email, take it slow.

If you’re willing to be patient and put in the time and energy that it takes to build a real relationship—rather than going for instant gratification like most people do—the potential impact on your career can be huge.

Photo of busy man courtesy of Shutterstock.