How to write a cold email (5 tips)

Crafting cold emails is an underrated skill. It can lead to the launch of a start up, a new career or a chat with one of your heroes. I’ve delved into 7 blogs and 1 podcast on the topic. The two best resources I have come across are A Guide to Cold Emailing by Tucker Max and an interview with Derek Sivers titled Cold Email Outreach. I’ll refer to these in my notes below.

1. Keep it succinct but human.

There’s a balance to be struck with email length.

Keeping it succinct makes it readable and prevents it from being put into the read later bucket.

But it’s equally important to share some personal context. Derek Sivers calls this “humanizing the inbox”. Who are you? Share your personality and strive to be jaw-droppingly interesting.

2. Show your worth and connect.

Share your accomplishments and provide links to your work.

Connect by sharing a thoughtful response to something they said, or appeal to something rare you have in common.

3. Have 0-1 specific requests.

You don’t need to ask a question, you could just say how much of a fan you are. Derek Sivers’ example:

Oh my God, I loved your book. This is brilliant writing. I just want to tell you what a huge impact it had on me. I read a lot, and this is one of the best things I’ve read in years. I just wanted to say thanks and count me as a fan.

If you ask something, make it specific with a clear easy action.

Vague requests like asking for mentorship or to keep in touch won’t be effective.

4. Say thank you.

Tucker Max writes:

Even just saying “Thank you so much! I am really grateful” to a request doubles response rates. And tell people it’s fine if they are too busy. Giving them a way out actually makes them more likely to help you.

5. If no response, follow up.

Derek Sivers says:

Try one more time because it’s considerate and polite to assume that they’re busy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s generous. It’s polite to persistently follow up.