How to Get on the Radar of People You Admire
I’ve sent more than 200 cold emails throughout my career — and have gotten only three rejections
I’ve never found a “hack” for success more effective than this one, a piece of advice I used to hear all the time from my dad: The best way to get what you want is by getting to know the people who already have it.
It’s advice I’ve relied on throughout my career. Over the years, I’ve reached out to well over 200 people doing things I thought were cool, requesting a chance to speak with them. Only three people have declined my invitation to talk. (Well, technically four — Oprah never got back to me.) This practice of cold-emailing has helped me build a professional tribe that has become a place for support, connection, and more opportunities than I ever thought possible.
At a time when everyone is dealing with a lot, the ability to craft an email that not only gets read, but gets a positive response, is an increasingly valuable skill. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to do it well.
Don’t begin by trying to call Oprah
If I learned anything from my experience of reaching out to strangers, it’s that the world is full of incredibly talented people who can help you grow. You don’t need Oprah, Bill Gates, Tim Ferriss or any other high-profile figure who will definitely never see your request to “put some time on their calendar.” Start smart by identifying friends of friends who are doing cool things.
Don’t limit your list to people who are in your exact field, either. Breakthroughs often come when you surround yourself with people who view things through a different lens.
Your subject line matters
After you’ve made a list of people to reach out to, it’s time to craft your email. The subject line “Friend of [mutual friend’s name]” is a solid option, but it’s not the only one. In one experiment, the entrepreneur and author Shane Snow found that simple subject lines like “Quick question” net strong results when you’re reaching out to new people. (Marketers, however, are starting to use this subject line more often, so its effectiveness may be waning.)