Email is a beautiful thing. It’s an unobtrusive option to the phone call that makes approaching important people easier than it’s ever been. In the olden days, you had to take a deep breath and call folks to pitch ideas or try to set up meetings and interviews. Now, you can just fire off a little note. The only trouble is that prominent individuals don’t always respond, and their silence can be disheartening.
Luckily, there are ways to increase your chances of getting through. In a great piece titled “How to Get Important People to Read Your Emails,” Daily Muse director of marketing Elliott Bell offers five tips he’s picked up over the years.
1. Be Mindful of Time — Think about your day: When are you most likely to check email? According to Bell, most people tackle their inbox early in the morning and late at night, since the middle portion of the day is often occupied with meetings and, you know, working. That said, everyone’s different, so if you don’t get a response after a morning missive, trying sending one at another time.
2. Keep It Short and Sweet — No one likes to read long emails, and that’s especially true for people in positions of power who are receiving hundreds — if not thousands — of messages per day. Don’t overload your note with words and get right the point on. “A really long email is going to be scanned so quickly that there is virtually no chance that your actual reason for emailing is going to be seen,” Bell writes.
3. Make Your Intentions Clear — This goes along with the last one. If, by the end of your email, the person doesn’t know what it is you’re after — a meeting or a chance to submit your resume for a job opening, say — you haven’t done your job. Say what you’d like the person’s action to be, Bell writes, and remember to always be polite.
4. Don’t Make It About You — Even if you’re emailing about a job opportunity or something else that would benefit you, tailor your email so it’s about the other person. What can you do for their company? Are you in a position to somehow make this person’s life easier? If so, by all means, explain.
5. Write Clicky Subject Lines — Don’t fall back on boring words like “introduction” or “thanks.” According to Bell, subject lines like “We shook hands at the Smith Charity event last night” or even “You won’t read another email like this today” are way more likely to pique a person’s curiosity.