The Importance of Being Professional in Email
Something I experience often when being on the receiving end of networking emails is the lack of nuance and personal touch.
I don't think anyone sets out to be rude when trying to connect or introduce themselves through email. Not at all.
I think what happens is people tend to interact as if there is a disconnect - a wall of sorts that technology puts up - almost like a personal touch doesn't matter in emails.
That is simply not the truth. We all know that there is an actual human being on the other side of that screen with whom you are trying to engage with. So why wouldn't we act like it every time we send an email?
So Many Unprofessional Emails
Just like we have etiquette in real life, there's etiquette when emailing, and far too often I'm so confused by the lack of it.
What leaves me scratching my head about these exchanges is the lack of any kind of nuance. These emails are almost always: way too chummy, not professional, no clue what I actually do, or clear canned emails that they sent to 20 other bloggers.
Here's a perfect example of the types of emails I get, a few weeks ago I received an email that was a wall of text that started out as "Hey There!" The second line was: "Let's just get this out in the open first: I adore your work." This person then went on in 7-8 paragraphs to talk about themselves, their business, all that they hav done in her life, and lastly how they would love to come on my podcast.
Umm, OK. If you love my work so much, how come you're unaware that I haven't posted an episode in months?
Greeting & Salutation
The same week I received that email I also got another email addressed "Hey guys!"
OK, I get it you're busy, you want to shoot off an email, and your most likely cutting and pasting your copy - but for the love of god, use the person's name you are reaching out to! It's just me on this end and maybe my VA. There are no "guys".
Addressing people by their names only increases the odds that your email will even be read. Find out who you are addressing, and address them as such. Use their name!
People love to see and hear their name.
Introduce Yourself & Then Make It About Them
Take one or two sentences to introduce yourself to the person you're emailing - and that is it.
Let them know who you are, but then make it about them. Tell them how you found them (a friend, you follow them on Twitter, you've long loved their blog, etc). This only increase the chances that your email will be read. This is your golden moment!
Don't Be Too Familiar
While you should be friendly, don't act like you know this person when you don't -- even if you have been connected through friends or colleagues. A little respect and restraint can go a long way.
It's off putting to be too familiar when you want something from someone. I won't act naive and pretend that people don't want things from each other in business, because they do. We all do. We all need these connections.
It's important to inject some finesse and protocol when reaching out to people you do not know at all.
Do Your Research
Next mention what it is that drew you to them in the first place.
Sincere compliments of their work is encouraged, and by all means know exactly what it is that they do currently. The person that wrote me above didn't even bother to search my podcast, had they done so they would have realized I cancelled my show the first week in January.
(I also still get emails regarding my old art blog with requests to write about someone's art because they love my blog so much! I stopped my art blog in 2012. 😣)
Keep It Brief
Everyone is busy. Most people hate email and are inundated by it. Keep your email as brief as possible. Once you intro yourself get to the point immediately in 3 to 4 sentences tops; what you are looking for, how it will benefit them, what you propose the next steps are (ie: you look forward to hearing from them and possibly working with them).
Supply all the information you can as succinctly and briefly as possible.
People don't have a lot of time to read 7, 8, 9 paragraphs especially if there's nothing in it for them. Brevity is key. This will only increase your chances of getting your email read, and hopefully a reply.
Canned & Group Emails
If you're going to cast a wide net with a canned email, do yourself a favor and personalize the email. People are smart, they know when they're reading a canned email.
If you're looking for something for yourself, the very least you can do is add a personal touch.
Also, if your request is important don't send group emails to a bunch of people. This immediately diminishes your chances of getting a reply.
Take the time to reach out to people, but make it personal.
By all means use a template or canned email to save you time. You don't need to be the Martha Stewart of email etiquette, but take a minute to add a personal touch.
Regardless of what kind of response you get, thank them for their time. It's just polite. If you get no response, follow up! That just shows you actually care about what you're doing and your relationship with them.
Even if you get a no, it is so important for you to take a minute and recognize the time they took out of their busy schedule to read and reply to you.
Thanking someone feels good, and it does a world of difference when creating relationships. You never know when your paths will cross again.
Connect Further & Give Back
Now that you've started a relationship with this person, stay in touch via social media or even email.
Follow them online to stay engaged with them and continue to build a relationship. Even if you get a no or no reply, you never know how you may be able to connect or work together in the future.
Never think of "no" as the end of something. If you took the time to reach out to this person, I'm guessing you respect what they do...don't let it end there! Continue to build your professional relationship with them.
All of the above takes only a few extra minutes and it really can make the difference in building a relationship online and the results you receive.
It really is that simple, and it can actually be enjoyable.
Everyone remembers a polite, kind person. And they sure as heck will remember if you were rude and self seeking.
So what's it going to be for you?