I must admit I find it a challenge — “it” being the goal of getting someone I don’t already have a business relationship with to respond to an email. Part of my business — and of many businesses — is seeking new clients. Sometimes that means I’m following up on a referral; sometimes I’m sending a “cold” email. Either way, it can be daunting to figure out what I can say to grab a stranger’s attention.

Not that this should come as a big surprise. People are inundated by email and find it difficult to keep up with messages sent from people they know, let alone total strangers. According to the Radicati Group, by 2021 an estimated 319.6 billion business and consumer emails will be sent and received each day. Yes, billion. (I know I already have some days when I feel like I send and receive about a billion emails myself!)

So, how can you cut through the volume and make yourself heard? It’s not easy. But I’ve found through trial and error, that there is a strategy that helps. I think of it is the “what,” “why,” and “how” approach. If you’re emailing someone hoping to attract his or her attention, I suggest you consider the following approach:

What must your email include?
1. Who you are: identify yourself as concisely as possible
2. What you have to offer: make it clear what your business is all about

Why should the recipient care?
1. Demonstrate you can provide something your email recipient needs
2. Explain how you can improve that person’s business
3. Show how you can solve a problem that person may be facing
Note: The above three steps all require doing some research, usually easily accomplished online.

How can you write an email that grabs attention?
1. Make your subject line distinctive

2. Write a strong first sentence
3. Keep all your sentences short
4. Choose persuasive, powerful, precise words
5. End with a call to action. (For example, suggest some follow up phone call times, asking if the recipient can let you know if any of those times will work at their end.)

Personally, I would always rather talk with someone about the courses The Language Lab offers rather than send an email. It’s much easier to help a prospective client understand how my business can facilitate effective communication through a conversation. But the reality is, emails are the preferred starting point for most busy business people. Of course, on a positive note the fact is that sometimes your email will be successful. If you follow the what/why/how approach you may just find the person you are emailing is no longer a “challenge” to connect with, or a complete stranger, but in fact someone with whom you have a new business relationship.




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