What to say when you email a complete stranger

Photo credit: mtkangm Shutterstock

Photo credit: mtkangm Shutterstock

If you’re trying to make a career change, meet new people, or simply learn about potential opportunities, nothing beats asking your network for insights and connections. But what if you’ve tapped your network and they can’t help? In this case, sometimes you have to go outside of your network and try to connect with a complete stranger.

Sending cold emails is nobody’s idea of fun, but you can be successful. Over on The Billfold, Leda Maritz offers a template email she sent to the leader of a nonprofit as an example of what to say in an email to a stranger. Here is a snippet:

2. Have a clear ask
You’re writing for a specific reason—to ask for them to share a comment/quote, to talk to you about their role or a career transition, or to learn about a project they’re working on. Make sure that your ask is clear.
Example (the “ask” in bold):

I’ve been working with a fellow volunteer to try to create a new business model for a domestic animal welfare group. We want to emphasize an integrated approach making sure that humane education, community outreach, sensible spay/neuter policies, and of course a robust adoption program are all part of the solution. We want to ensure that our group is well-run, ambitious, and can demonstrate measurable results.

Would you consider meeting with us to give us your thoughts on how the WCN model might apply (or be adapted) to work on a domestic scale? Your experience and business savvy would be tremendously valuable to us as we continue to brainstorm and develop this idea.

Read the rest of her advice on The Billfold.

I spend a lot of time sending and receiving cold emails and I really appreciated the detail of her example. I would also add, make your ask time specific (“Do you have 30 minutes to chat about…”) and when you follow up after the call/meeting, share a resource that they might find helpful based on your conversation.

Do you send cold emails? Have any tips to share? Add them in the comments.

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About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.

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