"Be brave and grow your network!" "Networking will give you a competitive edge!" – we all, as students hear such pitches if not on daily then certainly on a weekly basis. Yet the multifaceted nature of networking is being left unaddressed thus I wanted to remind you, my fellow peers, that the starting point of networking does not always require your actual presence. One of the techniques of distant networking is called 'cold emailing', and this is a particularly useful tool for all of you out there with a busy schedule, or simply prefer a written communication style.
So, what is it in essence? Cold emailing is a unique communication method, originally used in the sales industry, designed to gain the attention of a target individual towards the product or service promoted, and ultimately, persuade to reply. Yet it has been adopted by the general public as a networking tool is also known as 'professional emailing'.
Why would I need it? First, it is effective, as practical application in the business context has shown, and second, it saves your time, and that is the key success factor nowadays.
How do I do it then?
The initial idea is that you want the person of interest to reply. The key question to ask is 'why the person will not reply?' – this way you remove the roadblocks that trigger people to ignore emails in the first place. The main factors are irrelevance and length. As studies reveal, the first 20 seconds is the critical point that keeps the person's attention to reading completely new information. The goal is to provide the most relevant facts in a short message and make every new sentence to draw the reader's attention to keep on reading. Another point to remember is that we are living in a fast-moving world where time becomes scarcer thus more valuable. Writing a whole paragraph on your background and getting to the point only in the final sentence shows your complete disrespect towards the person, even if the intention is completely opposite. Now, as we revealed 2 strategic aspects of 'professional emailing', let us make it practical:
(Prior to writing an actual email do a bit of research on the person of interest – this way you will tailor the message making it more personal and memorable)
- Start with the introduction – highlight only information that is relevant for a reader. (1 sentence)
- Create the connection – emphasise the facts that unite you (common educational/professional background/values/goals/events/hobbies, etc.). (1 sentence)
- Praise – choose one area of your admiration and let the person feel valued (incentivise to keep on reading). (1 sentence)
- Reason – address 2 questions 'why am I writing to you' (state the exact purpose), 'what you can give me' (skills/advice/connections, etc.). (4 sentences)
- Personal details for further contact.
- Arrange meeting – state the exact amount of time you will require from a person (showing respect for an individual's time). (1 sentence)
And remember – practice makes perfect!