How To Reach Out To (And Get Noticed By) Busy People
Today's competitive and challenging professional market is similar to a treasure hunt. Your efforts of getting noticed seem just within reach, yet the reality of unanswered emails, phone calls, and meeting requests tell another story. Whether you're a job seeker, a business development manager, or an avid networker, it's important to view your outreach effort from the vantage point of those on the other side of the fence. Many executives rarely find ample time in a standard workday to complete tasks, let alone answer emails that are not on their ever-growing priority lists. Email can be one channel to engage contacts- but it needs to be the right type of contact effort.
The subject line is crucial.
Your goal is to have the email opened in the mist of hundreds of "Hi," "Hello," or "Looking for an opportunity" subject lines. Whether it's a cold email or an established contact, be sure that your subject line pops. Include words that are inviting, interesting, and professional. For example, action words like passionate, dedicated or enthusiastic can make a subject line exciting enough to get the receiver to open it. People often shy away from creative subject lines, so this will give you email a chance to shine, and more importantly, get read as well.
The content of the email should add value.
Once your mail is opened, your message must be worth reading. After all, your subject line was so exciting; you must have an incredible follow up! Email efforts will likely be ignored if you lack standard knowledge of whom you are addressing or what result you are seeking. You should do your research and understand whom you're hunting. Include key points in your email within the first five sentences to keep the person interested and engaged.
For instance, if you're seeking a potential job you could say something along the lines of: "During the last five years of my career, I have continuously persevered through many obstacles, and I take full responsibility for my own career success." This approach shows professionalism with a personal touch. Be sure to include some of your favorite hobbies to bring your personality to life. For example: "My professional life is a huge part of who I am, however, I enjoy traveling to far-flung destinations and learning to cook new varieties of global cuisines.
Following up is essential in all outreach efforts.
The reality is that those you are pursuing are incredibly busy and may forget about you. Your follow-up messages should be in patterns. Refrain from following up daily; instead, find a period of grace that is professional yet consistent. If your efforts are still going unnoticed, examine the time of day you have contacted this person in the past. If you were sending emails in the morning, try the afternoon and vice versa.
In New York City, I chased the Senior Vice President of Ogilvy PR for almost a year trying to land a meeting. Some days, I received an email in response, while others went unanswered and ignored. After one year of pursuing her, I was finally able to schedule a sit-down with the executive. The key here was to be consistent and remain on-message. A single reply can open doors, and while it may not be immediate, it's leverage to stay in the mix while demonstrating initiative and dedication.