As you might have guessed from the title above, this is a purely self-promotional post. So if that turns you off, now's the time to turn away.
If you're still reading, here's my pitch: I just published a new book on networking called The Short and Great Guide to Online Business Networking. It's about using sites like LinkedIn to help you network from the comfort of your home to get that next big job, client or promotion.
It's now available on Amazon. Here's an excerpt for your reading enjoyment. This is from a chapter in the book about becoming proactive and productive at networking.
Effective email practices
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
—Seneca, Roman philosopher
How to send emails that will be read
Good communication is critical. Many opportunities have been squandered because of a lack of communication, or because of miscommunication. This is especially true in today’s world of emails. In years gone by, face-to-face contact and telephone calls were the norm. In that era, a person’s expression, or the tone of their voice gave you a pretty good read of their reaction. But with emails, things have become trickier. Because most communication in the business world is done—at least initially—via email, it’s important to keep the nuances of this form of contact in mind. If you don’t, you risk blowing a perfectly good opportunity.
▪ Keep it short. No one wants to read a long, sprawling email… let alone write one. So save yourself a lot of trouble, and get your point across in a couple short paragraphs. Your brevity will be appreciated.
▪ Personalize. Don’t send people generic emails, unless you want to sound like spam. Show your recipient that you’ve taken to time to get to know their profile or their company a little by mentioning something that’s unique to them in your email. A little, “I noticed that you just got promoted” or “your company was mentioned on an influential blog” will go a long way towards getting you a response.
▪ Be strategic. Who should you contact? What level of seniority should they be, or what industry, or company? Spend most of your time targeting your emails.
▪ Think about your audience. The content and tone of your email should differ based on who you’re writing to. If you’re sending an email to a CEO, it should probably be more formal than an email you’d send to someone straight out of school. Think about who you’re writing to, and adjust accordingly.
▪ Don’t spam. Again, this has to do with emailing less people. Don’t send a generic email to every single one of your contacts. You’ll just be spamming them, and there’s no worse way to turn someone off.
Becoming an email Pro
One you’ve mastered email basics, it’s time to become a pro. That means optimizing your emails, taking note of what works (and what doesn’t), and generally developing tactics that work for you.
▪ Using templates. Yes, we discussed personalizing and not spamming… but using a template doesn’t mean you’re going to send the exact same email to everyone. To the contrary, a template can be 75% the same for everyone, as long as it has 25% unique content. In other words, you may want to start off your emails the same way: “Hi, my name is John Doe, and I’m a recent business school grad with a 4.0 GPA and extensive volunteering experience…”, but continue them with unique content: “… and I’ve always wanted to work for Google, and I’d like to know if you could…”.
▪ Creating multiple templates. It’s best to create different templates for different situations. You may want to have one for contacts you’re connected with, one for people you’re not connected with, one for replies to emails, etc. Whatever you do, remember this: ensure that a portion of your email is customized to your recipient to avoid being spammy.
▪ Optimizing your templates. Experiment with your emails. Write different versions and test them out to see which ones get more responses. Then tweak the ones that work best to make them even better. Keep it up for a while and you’ll have a slew of really strong templates that will get you responses.
How to respond to requests
Emails aren’t a “one way street.” You’ll be sending a lot of them—but you’ll also be receiving a ton of them… and the more contacts you add to your network, the more emails you’ll receive. It’s important to be aware of the fact that how you reply to emails is just as important as how you compose your own.
▪ Reply quickly. It’s fun getting replies from people quickly, so be one of those people who responds in a day or two. People will appreciate your promptness… and will be more likely to return the favor when it’s your turn.
▪ Think before you write. Reply promptly—but not hastily. In other words, take a few moments to really think about what the person is asking for, and how you can help them out.
▪ Be extra helpful. Go that extra mile to help people out. If they’re asking for A and you can also give them B, then give them both. You don’t have to go overboard, but doing a little more than expected is a nice touch.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my book. To find out more about my book The Short and Great Guide to Online Business Networking, take a look at Amazon. Thanks for reading!