If there’s one thing I simultaneously love and hate more than anything else, it’s EMAIL.
Email allows you to communicate with someone for free, gather information, attract and nurture relationships, and much of it can be done automatically. It doesn’t get much better, unless you throw in a massage and chocolate covered strawberries.
But email also has a dark side.
Everyone with your email address thinks they’re entitled to your immediate attention.
Since it’s so cheap and easy to shoot off an email, people do it without a thought. And your inbox piles up, each email demanding something from you.
That’s why TIME WASTING EMAILS are such a pet peeve of mine.
I am way too busy to try decipher the meaning of your email. So if you can’t make it crystal clear what you want or need within seconds, you’ve lost me.
I’m not alone. Ramit Sethi routinely preaches the importance of good questions and emails when it comes to getting what you want.
So now I’m going to reveal the secrets of how to get me (or someone you want something from, like a VIP high-end planner or venue sales manager–hint, hint) to actually respond to your email and do what you want.
#1 – Do your research beforehand.
If you want this VIP to take you seriously, take the time to find out her first name and spell it correctly. Educate yourself about the person, her company and what she’s been up to lately. At the very least, read through the company website thoroughly.
This sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times we receive an email asking us to partner with someone and they don’t even take the time to look for our names.
Is a VIP going to invest her time in someone who shows so little investment in her? I don’t think so.
#2 – Use proper English and grammar.
If you can’t write well, have someone else write this email for you. Seriously.
Typos, horrible spelling and grammar mistakes make a very, very bad impression. Your VIP won’t even get to your message if she can’t get past your grammatical errors.
#3 – Get an introduction by a mutual friend.
If you can get an actual introduction to your VIP by an acquaintance you have in common, do it. If that’s not possible, mention their name.
Naming a friend can open doors that may otherwise stay shut.
#4 – Flattery is a good place to start.
Begin your email with a little praise. Tell your VIP what you admire about his work and be specific about it. Make an insightful observation that demonstrates you know what you’re talking about.
Flatter him a bit. Studies show that flattery works to make people like you more, even when they know what you’re up to, but don’t lay it on too thick or you come off like a stalker.
#5 – Be specific about what you want.
Now that you’ve buttered them up, it’s time to ask for what you want. Don’t beat around the bush about it.
This is the time to be direct and specific.
VIPs don’t have time to try to figure out what you have in mind. Vague comments about “partnering on something” or “chatting about my business” will get you no where.
Cut to the chase and tell her what you want.
#6 – Clearly explain the benefit for them.
Tell him WHY he should do what you ask. What’s in it for him?
Whether we admit it or not, we’re always thinking about ourselves. We’re the center of our own universe.
If you can show your VIP how doing what you want also gets him what he wants, that’s a winning scenario.
Remember, the benefit doesn’t always come down to dollars and cents. Other reasons to help you might include:
- The opportunity to contribute to a cause.
- The chance to share a stage with a speaker they admire.
- The pleasure of helping a talented young person.
If you did your homework (see #1) you’ll know a little about what makes this VIP tick. Use that to explain why it’s a good idea to do what you ask.
#7 – Make it easy to do what you ask.
Draw a straight line from what you’ve asked her to do and the next step. Make it so easy to understand that all she has to do is say yes or no.
If your goal is to get on the phone with her, name a specific date and time. If you want her to promote your newest blog post, include a prewritten social media blurb to use.
Make it as easy as possible. The more effort the VIP must make to understand your request and execute it, the less likely it is to happen.
The Bad and the Good
Let me give you an example of a bad email and how to make it better. Let’s pretend you’re a wedding photographer who’d like to connect with a high-end wedding planner. And you send this…
Hey, I love what you’re doing! Could we have a chat at some point?
This email tells me NOTHING about who you are, what you want, why I should care or what I should do about it.
Your chances of getting a response are slim to none. Unless this planner has a thing for wasting time.
I love the work you did at the Belvedere tasting. The decor was a gorgeous match for the mansion and the library books were the perfect unexpected touch!
I’d like to buy you lunch and learn more about your business so I can send the right referrals your way.
When are you available?
This email is much better. It shows your knowledge of the person and respect for their work. You’ve given her a reason (albeit a rather weak one) to get together.
But let’s take this to the next level.
My friend Larry Winters and I were talking about how much we enjoyed the Belvedere tasting last week, and he suggested that I contact you.
I absolutely love what you did with it. The decor was a gorgeous match for the mansion and the library books were the perfect unexpected touch!
I’m writing a series of articles about the best wedding professionals in the area and I’d love to include you.
Are you available for a lunch interview on Thursday at noon?
If that doesn’t work for you, please send me a few alternate dates and times.
Ah, now we’re in business. You’ve named a mutual acquaintance, laid on some praise and given her a really good reason to speak with you.
All she has to do is check her calendar. And if that doesn’t work, you’ve given her an easy next step. This is a persuasive email.
Learn more about how to win friends and referrals with smart networking.
The Long and the Short of Persuasive Emails
Now you know what’s really going on in the mind of someone who reads your email request.
So the next time you don’t get what you want, stop whining and complaining. Rework your email according to these guidelines and you’ll up your chances of a favorable response dramatically.
What do you think?