The Art of a Cold Email

The Art of a Cold Email

Did you ever have to write an email to someone you did not know, whose email you obtained on the internet or via a mutual contact? Haven’t we all! It just so happens that I am doing a lot of it these days, as I am searching for my next moonshot opportunity.

I cannot claim that I am a Level 12 Cold Email Writer, but nonetheless, here are a few tips that I can share, as they are still fresh in my head.

Where

There are three main sources of contact information you may be using. One of them is via the members’ directory at your actuarial society. For example, the Society of Actuaries in the US has an excellent members’ directory that lists location, specialisation, accreditations and, most importantly, the coveted email for each member.

The second source of the contact information is the magazine article or blog of the person you want to contact. Have you ever read an article and thought “Wow, this is the guy/girl I want to work for!” Indeed, rarely, but I have as well! Frequently, magazine articles and blogs have contact details of the author.

Finally, there are times when your friends, acquaintances, LinkedIn contacts may refer you to someone. This situation is ideal, because you can mention their name in your email, thus increasing your chances.

What

At last, we come to the meat and potatoes of this post (apologies to all vegetarians and to those on a low-carb diet) – what to write in the actual email. Since this email is essentially a marketing campaign for you, we should follow a tried and true marketing staple – AIDA. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and is the basis of all good marketing and advertising copy. You need to structure the email according to the same principles, albeit not at such a high tone as the advertising copy.

Attention – a good start is to apologize for cold emailing them or, if you were referred by someone, it is a good time to do some name dropping!

Interest – introduce yourself, explain who you are and what you do, explain your experience, accreditations, special facts that the target audience can understand and relate to. This section should not be any longer than four sentences.

Desire – explain why the target audience should want you and only you. Are you motivated, enterprising, experienced? Do you have experience in the area your addressee works in? What makes you unique?

Action – what do you want from them? Do you want a job? Ok, ask if they have any opportunities, but set a subsequent action for them to do. For example, ask for a meeting, or a phone call.

P.S. – as a post scriptum, offer your resume or include a link to your LinkedIn profile, so that they can get more details about you and your experience.

Follow Up

Now comes the toughest part – you need to follow up with them ideally a week after your email. This is tough, because there is no “anonymity” that you perceive over the email, so you actually have to sound coherent and try to interest them in thirty seconds.

I recommend creating a bullet-point list of topics you want to cover and sticking to that.

Aw, Shucks

And the final point I have for you is – prepare to be disappointed! The response rate to cold emails is somewhere in the 5% area. Arguably, the following up with the phone call action will increase the response rate, so take that into consideration!

Tips

Tip # 1do not lie in the email. What I mean is that you should not say that someone recommended you if they haven’t, list an experience that you’ve never had, list an accreditation that you do not possess. The worst thing that can happen is that you establish a relationship with this person, only to tarnish it later when they eventually find out that you lied.

Tip # 2do not badmouth anyone. If you are disenchanted with the company’s HR department, do not vent in an email to an actuary at that company. They may just forward your email to them anyway!

 

Good luck out there!

 

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccstb/4323440560/

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