is the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School, and has been celebrated as one of the world’s 10 most influential thinkers on management.
He writes in a LinkedIn post
that once he became the kind of person popular enough to receive a lot of cold emails from strangers, he noticed that some of the messages were more effective than others.
Here are his 6 principles for writing cold emails to important people:
1. Write a compelling subject line: People are more likely to read subject lines that create curiosity or provide utility. When the recipient isn’t busy, an intriguing subject line can draw them in. But when they’re busy, their curiosity fades and they pay more attention to the practical utility that the email subject line suggests.
Here are a few examples of effective email subject lines that Grant has received:
Curiosity: “Your book kept me up all night”
Utility: “Applying your techniques to recovering addicts”
2. Explain why they’re the right person: Good emails highlight why the recipient is the best person for your particular message or request. It’s worth writing a sentence or two explaining that you know about their interests or work, and explaining how it’s relevant to you.
3. Show that you’ve done your homework: Don’t ask questions that could be answered by doing a quick Google search.
4. Do you have something unusual in common?: Highlighting “uncommon commonalities” can bring strangers closer together. As Grant puts it: “Think of the last time you traveled abroad and met someone from your hometown. If you met at home, the connection wouldn’t stand out as unique, but on foreign soil, you’re the only two people from there, so you feel a sense of closeness.”
5. Make your request short and specific: Don’t ramble.
6: Express gratitude: Grant writes that his least favorite emails are those that make demands instead of expressing appreciation (“We should definitely meet”). He’s found in his research that “people provide more extensive and useful help when it’s an enjoyable choice than when it’s driven by perceived pressure or obligation.”