We can connect instantly with almost anyone in today’s fast-paced world. A quick Google search can find most people’s email addresses. Although it’s not fool proof, sending new contacts email messages is one of the easiest and least intrusive ways to make contact. On the other hand, talking on the phone may have a bigger impact but it is more time consuming, especially when a stranger is inevitably asking for a favor.
If email is the route you select to make initial contact, make sure you use correct email etiquette or you may alienate your new connections. Perception is everything. When composing your email messages be sure to proof for grammar and tone so you don’t come across as rude, as that can turn off contacts immediately.
Follow these five simple rules so you are not running the risk of offending the people you are emailing:
1. Avoid using return receipts – For initial emails, do not attach electronic return receipts. If email addresses are wrong they will bounce back to you and you can try to find other email addresses. If you do not get responses you can always follow-up shortly thereafter.
2. Ease into meetings – It can be alarming for people to have a stranger request meetings out of the blue. Instead, ask them if there is a more convenient way for them to talk their leisure. Make the request informal and low-pressure. After all, it’s just a meet and greet, right?
3. Don’t email them too often – If you receive replies to your messages, that’s great! However, do not start to email people every time you have ideas or something to share about your projects. Try making notes and editing them, then sending weekly or maybe even monthly email updates to “catch-up.” Remember, periodic reinforcement is a great tool when used correctly!
4. Introduce yourself and get to know your contacts better – Build relationships with your contacts so they grow to know, like and trust you – and so you can do the same with them. While it is certainly ok to ask contacts for referrals via email, make sure they feel confident in you before they put their reputations on the line by introducing you to their contacts. You may even want to first ask them if they know of people who have insights on the topic, and then work toward earning the referral. Once that trust is established, they might offer to connect you to people they know!
5. Ask them to work with you – Don’t jump straight into relationships with contacts. Sometimes people look good on paper but can be a difficult to collaborate with on projects. Be sure to do your homework when developing your prospect list so your emails are as effective as possible.
Just remember there are real, live people receiving your emails. They are busy dealing with their careers, social and family lives. Be respectful of that and their time; they will notice and hopefully reach back out to you in turn.