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The Formula for Introducing Yourself in an Email—And Getting a Response

Hook ’em early

Shy hello gif

By Megan Hageman and Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

With 3.9 billion email users worldwide and American workers receiving an average of 126 emails every single day, it’s hard to stand out when you’re writing a cold email.

It’s time for a crash course in introducing yourself in an email about the subject you know best: you. Whether your motivation is landing a new job, networking, or reaching out to a new colleague, this is how to make a positive first impression. 

Writing a great subject line

47 percent of people decide whether or not to open an email based solely on the subject line, so it pays to take an extra minute to write one that is succinct, specific, and relevant.

Keep the subject short—about 50 characters, which is the length most email clients display without opening an email.  

Following Up on Our Previous Conversation

RE: Your Panel Appearance on 5/26

You Work on Public Infrastructure

Read Your Article on Fast Company

Your Transition to a New Digital System

Greeting/salutation

Don’t resort to the generic and impersonal, To whom it may concern. 

Even if you’re using a generic contact email, you’ll want to show you did your research. If you can’t find the name of the person you’re writing to, addresses it cordially to the team or organization.

Hi Dr. Branwell,

Hello InHerSight team,

Good morning, Susan!

Writing the perfect opening

We can all admit to opening an email, skimming the first few sentences, or even just the first few words, and then immediately losing interest. This is why the first sentence of your introduction email is critical. 

Here are three ways you can start your intro email.

Start with what led you to reach out to them or how you came to know who they are

It helps if you can pack this into a compliment or common interest.

I was moved by your recent article on ___ and wanted to ask you about one point you made.

I’m a student at X University and we’ve been studying your work in my class. It’s had a profound effect on the way I think about _________.

I attended your panel at the art museum. Your take on the depiction of femininity in ancient art really changed the way I think about feminine depiction in modern art.

Tell them how you might benefit them

I know your company is moving toward a new online system. As an experienced developer I can help make the transition more efficient.

In your talk at the symposium last week you mentioned the need for more data around women’s transportation patterns. My research examines this very thing.

I saw that you’re new to Minneapolis. I’d love to grab a quick lunch with you this week to talk about how our organizations might work together.

Pull the old name drop

If you have a connection in common or a contact that works at the same company, use it for context. A great mutual contact can be the best connection.

Your former colleague Sarah Mendez was my supervisor at my last company. 

We have a mutual friend in Cynthujah Vivekananthan, who was my intern early in her career. She speaks very highly of you and your work.

Roman passed me your email address. He told me about the work you do and I simply had to reach out.

The email body

After your opening, get to the point of your email quickly, this is not a cover letter. 

Make the point of your email crystal clear.

I would like to set a meeting with you to discuss working together on a conference sponsorship.

I am writing to ask your opinion on my business plan.

I would like to schedule a phone call with you to discuss your work and how the data I’ve collected might benefit your research.  

Read more: How to Get Positive Responses to Cold Outreach on LinkedIn

Ending the email

Close your email with a very specific request—a “call to action.”

What days are you free for lunch to discuss? 

I have attached my resume. Are you able to look it over and provide feedback? 

Let me know what time on Monday or Tuesday is best for you.

I would like the chance to discuss your new business venture and how my company might help this project.

Once you’ve made the request, don’t forget to thank the recipient for their time and consideration.

The sign-off

The closing sign-off can be more formal or informal depending on the tone of the rest of your message. 

Formal closings include:

Sincerely,

Regards,

Thank you,

More casual sign-offs include:

Cheers,

Talk soon,

Looking forward to it!

Include your full name, job title, and contact information. 

Read more: How to End an Email: The Best Sign-Offs for Every Tone

An introductory email example

Alright, let’s put it all together.

Hi Mina,

Your colleague Maria Elena passed along your email address. She told me about the work you’re doing with transportation systems and I thought we should connect.

I work in public infrastructure and would love the chance to discuss your latest work—I have some data around population growth you might find interesting. 

Would you be available for coffee next week?

Best,

Laura

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