Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss writes on his blog
that email is like food: “Good recipes produce good results, but you need to follow the proper steps.”
He offers the following 5 tips for writing effective emails to people who might delete more email in a day than you read in a week:
1. Get to the point: Keep your message as short as possible, and make sure your specific request is clear. Avoid vague messages like: Let’s have a phone call – it’ll be worth your time.
2. Don’t wear out your welcome: If you made a good impression during your first conversation or meeting, make your subsequent interactions as valuable as possible. Don’t send “zero-content” emails simply to keep in touch.
3. Show that you’ve done your part: If you’re asking for help, show what you’ve already done to try to find a solution. Don’t ask people who are busier than you for answers that Google could provide in 20 seconds: “That puts you on the banned list.”
4. Use the “executive recruiter referral trick”: A seasoned recruiter usually won’t call an employed C-suite executive and ask them to take another position. Instead, they’ll ask the executive if they know anyone who might be interested in the given role.
While the recruiter’s intention is clear (Would you consider this role over your current employer?), the referral trick gives the executive a comfortable and easy way to decline.
5. Make it OK to decline: Make it clear that it’s fine if the person can’t help, isn’t interested, or is already too committed to other obligations. Paradoxically, this raises the likelihood that you’ll get a response.
Ferriss includes the below example of an email he received that follows these 5 tips:
I hope all is well (and I gather from your celebrity that it is—I can’t seem to go a week without seeing your book or name somewhere).
I know you place tremendous value on your time so I’ll be brief. The website I launched last fall (www.SmartRaise.com) has evolved into a much more far-reaching venture: a software company that provides fundraising optimization and online advocacy solutions for nonprofits. I’m raising $500-750k for the business, called Donor Loyalty Corp, and have a meaningful percentage of that already committed from various Angel investors.
Naturally, I’m courting a number of prospective Angels from my personal network to hopefully fill out the rest of the round. However, I was curious if your experience has taught you any lessons about identifying seed-stage investors and, more specifically, if you’ve come to know any Princeton Alums or other individuals who have an appetite for deals like these. I’ve attached my fundraising deck for some context.
I understand if you’re too busy to answer in depth or would prefer not to discuss the topic given our limited interactions in the past. However, if the professor in you has any pearls of wisdom or specific thoughts, they would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance and I hope we can connect.
Robert J. Moore ‘06”