If you want to get ahead in today’s competitive business world, you have to continually expand your network. Whether you’re looking for a new job or just hoping to make some strong contacts for the future, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to connect with fellow professionals. While a warm introduction from a mutual contact is usually your best bet, it’s not always possible. Sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands. Sending a cold networking email is one way to reach out and introduce yourself to someone you’d like to meet.
Basically, a cold networking email is just an unsolicited message inviting someone to connect. You may send it via LinkedIn message or via regular email.
Unfortunately, electronic messaging is a difficult medium for building a new relationship. Most people have overflowing email inboxes and LinkedIn messages can be easy to overlook—especially when they come from someone you don’t know.
So, how do you craft a cold networking email that actually gets results? Here are some key points to keep in mind.
Identify the Right People
You don’t want to blanket your message all over town without any rhyme or reason—that’s just spam. Instead, you want to be intentional about who you reach out to. LinkedIn is your best resource for finding new potential contacts. You can search by organization, location, title and more. Who you will want to connect with depends on your goals. Perhaps you want to connect with someone in a company where you’re considering submitting an application. Or maybe you want to meet someone who is more experienced in your field, or someone who works in a field you’re considering transitioning to. Whoever you’re looking for, you can find them on LinkedIn—if you’re willing to invest the time to research.
Keep It Short
When crafting your cold networking email, keep it short. No one wants to read pages and pages of introductory text. In fact, they won’t read it. They’ll delete it. If you want your message to actually get read, it has to be concise and to-the-point. If you spend more than two sentences explaining who you are and why you’re contacting them, you’ve already lost their attention.
For example, your opening might look something like this:
As a fellow financial planner in the Denver area, I noticed we share a complementary clientele, as well as a few other interests. I wanted to introduce myself in the hopes that this might be a mutually beneficial connection.”
Ask for What You Want
Don’t beat around the bush regarding your goal. If you want to have a meeting with this person, ask for it. However, remember that people are busy. It’s probably best to first request a very brief (15 minute) phone call instead. Just be specific; don’t be wishy-washy about it. Offer to work around their schedule to make it as convenient as possible.
For example, your request might look something like this:
“I’m curious if you’d be interested in getting to know one another in a quick 15-minute phone call on Thursday or Friday of this week. Are you available?”
What’s in It for Them?
Why would this person want to meet with you? What will entice them to stop what they’re doing and spend 15 minutes (or even an hour) getting to know you, a virtual stranger? Spell it out for them. If they can’t see the value of making a connection with you, they will very likely ignore your message. It’s nothing personal; they’re just prioritizing, and you’re not a priority.
Explain what you hope to accomplish in the meeting (or phone call) and that you’re eager to learn more about them/their business and how you can help them meet their goals. This shows that you’re interested in it being a two-way discussion, and that it should be mutually beneficial.
For example, your value proposition might look something like this:
“I’d love to learn more about the great things happening in your business, and possibly explore some opportunities for supporting one another. I’m always looking for strong referral partners and it appears your firm offers some services that might be of interest to my clients.”
Don’t Be Salesy
Finally, remember that this is an invitation to connect with a person, not a sales letter. Don’t try to jazz it up with “powerful” questions or intense lingo. Every week, I receive 10 (or more) messages on LinkedIn from different folks who want to know if I am making enough money in my business, or if I want more traffic to my website, or if I want hundreds of new hot leads!!
These messages are easy to ignore because they’re not personal and they’re totally off-putting.
The goal of a cold networking email is to start a relationship. The best way to do that is by being authentic and intentional in your outreach. Find the right people and approach them with an honest, simple request that is valuable for you both. You’ll be surprised at how many people take you up on your offer.