How to Get Responses When You Email High-Level Contacts

Sometimes it's not what you know, but who -- even if you don't actually know them. Yet.

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By Brian J. Roberts

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Building a successful business takes time. But nothing can get you there faster than someone else. Especially if that someone else is famous in your field. Imagine this: you're preparing to launch a new offering and need to get the word out. Sure, you could send email pitches to bloggers until you get carpal tunnel. But if a prominent person mentions it you'll gain repute, credibility, heightened awareness and an avalanche of sales. All in 1/10th the time.

Selling to a large company? Taking the traditional route like most vendors could take weeks or months. Human resources, procurement, accounting and legal will all try to get as much out of you for as little as possible, eating away at your time and energy. But if you deal directly with an executive your fee potential will jump tenfold and your sales cycle will shorten to nothing.

Unfortunately, most people think it's as simple as sending a Tweet or email and asking for it. You see comments like these all the time on social media. People begging influencers to "please share this" and the like. As a result many high-level contacts have hidden their direct contact information. That or they ignore most cold pitches outright.

But not to worry. After reading this you'll know how to reach them and what to say to get them on your side.

Gaining access to your target.

New contacts of mine routinely compare me to a private investigator. In fact, the first thing several have said to me after picking up my call was: "How did you find me?" That's because, for better or worse, nothing is impossible to find on the Internet nowadays.

But you don't need to have detective skills to reach most people because most contact information is right in plain site. Oftentimes, people are just scared to reach out.

Using LinkedIn and a service like Sell Hack or SalesForce's Data Connect, reverse search the contact names and company emails. If you can't find the contact on these sites, download the gmail plugin Rapportive. Using the following email combinations, this plugin should be able to tell you which one is in use:

johndoe@company.com
john.doe@company.com
jdoe@company.com
johnd@company.com
j.doe@company.com
john.d@company.com

Related: Three Ways to Connect with Online Influencers

Still no luck? Look for a "Press", "Media" or "Investor Relations" page via the company's website. A first name, last name and email address should displayed. Simply plugin your contact's name and you're all set. Elliot.org also lists direct contact information for high-level executives at countless companies. Contact Any Celebrity and Booking Agent Info are also useful depending on the niche you're in.

Related: The Unexpected Places to Find Amazing Mentors

Crafting the message.

Now that you have the contact information of your high-profile target (or their agent, manager, etc.) you can send the email.

You're probably familiar with the format AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). That may work in conventional marketing and advertising, but when you're dealing with high powered people you have to switch it up.

Go with my version instead: CUBE

Credible: people in power are inundated with requests. The key to dialoguing with a high-level person is be seen as a peer, not an obsequent.
Unique: I don't mean a whacky signature file. Have a researched and clearly defined reason for reaching out that's mutually beneficial and aligned with their interests. If it's a question, don't send it if a quick Google search has the answer.
Brief: keep your message capped at 100-150 words. They don't have the time to read the next great American novel and, as a peer, you shouldn't have time to type one. Lack of concision shows a lack of respect for their time too.
Easy: make it as easy as possible to respond. This means make your request low pressure and offer a plethora of options for them to choose from. This alters the dynamic from a "yes or no" one to a "yes or yes" one.

Related: Bad Words

My cold emails (and yes, even cold phone calls) have received responses from Fortune 100 executives, triple platinum musicians, celebrity agents and executive editors. If your message is thoughtful enough you too can get responses, and eventually reap the many benefits of working with high profile connections. Of course, my response rate hasn't been 100%. But it doesn't need to be. All it takes is one to alter the trajectory of your business - and your life.

Brian J. Roberts

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Writer | Host of All Gosts

Brian J. Roberts is a writer and the host of All Goats. His writing has been featured in The Washington Post and he's written for Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Time, CNBC and more.

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