I speak with people all the time who ask me how I got in touch with someone at a movie studio or a management company. When I tell them it was through a cold email, I always get the same response: “Those work? How did you get to them and actually get a response?”
While a lot of work that I do comes through previous relationships and someone connecting me to someone else, I certainly don't know everyone and I have found cold email to be very successful in building business opportunities, but only if it is done the right way.
Below are some tips and tricks that I have found work well for me in making cold email effective:
1. Only bring people good stuff.
That's about as simple as I can say it. Most people, especially high-level executives, get bombarded with emails every day. I've found one thing to be generally true: If you bring someone something interesting, even if they are extremely important, they will respond and engage. If you bring them crap, they won't respond. More important, they won't respond in the future because they will link that first awful thing you brought them and wasted their time with to everything you will bring them there on out.
2. Get to the point quickly.
Attention spans are at an all-time low. When you email someone, you need to grab him or her within the first two sentences. Make sure you excite and engage them with something that makes them want to read the rest of the email.
3. Keep it informal.
I remember being in school and learning the formal way to write a letter (header, address, etc.). All that goes out the window with email. If you are too formal in an email, it looks weird and like you haven't done real business before. This doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn’t check your spelling, facts, etc.
I usually start an email very informally with something such as, “Hi Joe -- Hope this email finds you well.” Whenever I get a response back from people, it's generally a two-sentence reply, sometimes with a typo, and sent from an iPhone. It's not rocket science, so don't make it out to be. Make it look like you've done this before.
4. Be confident.
Going back to the first rule -- if you’re bringing people good stuff, then you should be confident with what you are bringing them. But do not be cocky or rude. Deliver the message in a way that you know you are bringing them something worthwhile and you deserve to be working with them. They will appreciate this and elevates you and whatever you are pitching them.
5. Make it personal.
I can't stand when I get an email from someone trying to pitch me and it looks like it’s a standard email they sent to 20 people hoping to get a response from one. Usually they start with “Dear Sir” or “To Whom This May Concern.”
Even though it’s an email address and you don't know what the person looks like, take the time to make the email personal and add their name. It goes a long way when someone receiving an email feels like they are the only one receiving it.
6. Know who you are emailing.
I have seen or heard this happen more than one would think. If you are emailing someone from Fox about a potential partnership, don't copy and paste your email to ABC and forget to change it throughout the message. It takes 30 seconds to run through the email and make sure you are sending it to the right person with the right info. Sloppiness equals no response.
7. Follow up.
I would say 70 percent of people I cold-email don't initially respond after my first message. Important people get lots of emails and sometimes forget to respond or it gets lost in their inbox. Follow up!
I have a many friends that tell me they emailed someone but never heard back and they essentially gave up. Just because they don't respond the first time doesn't mean it was on purpose. I make it a rule to follow up three times before I give up, at which point it starts to get annoying to the receiver as clearly they don't want to respond.
Many times, I get a response on the follow-up email and some of my best business deals have come out of emails that I didn't initially get a response on either the first or even second time. Persistence pays off!