How to Get More Replies When Networking

The easiest way to get faster responses to your networking emails is to write shorter emails.

Think about it. What’s your preference? Scrolling through paragraph after paragraph aimlessly searching for the main point or skimming a sentence or two that can be acted on and filed quickly?

Here are common things that delay a response when reaching out to new contacts:

  • Long paragraphs. Use bullet points instead if you must relay details. They are more inviting, focused, and skim-able. Introductory emails are best kept brief – no more than 3 – 4 concise sentences total. Many emails today are read on mobile devices, so a good rule of thumb for length is a message that can be read on-screen without scrolling.
  • Too much detail. Include an attachment or link (e.g., LinkedIn profile url) where additional information can be found if the reader is interested. Give them the choice to learn more rather than forcing them to by writing a dissertation in the email body.
  • Not getting to the point. State the purpose of the email early, as early as the Subject line (e.g., Referred by Michael Lily). Realize that if you don’t have an established relationship, an unknown name in an inbox may be unintentionally deleted or categorized as spam.
  • Too involved. If your request requires a lot consideration, time, or involvement, expect the reply to take longer or to possibly never come. These requests are best had through conversations once a relationship has been established.
  • Inappropriate requests. Although not related to length, asking new contacts for an immediate referral or lunch meeting is too forward. Requests like “pick your brain” are one-sided and don’t elicit the warm feelings upon which relationships are built. Instead, invest in your contacts first by checking out their website or following their Twitter feed so you can be specific and targeted in your request.

Building your network is about cultivating relationships, which are attained over time and usually result in mutual benefit. Before you send your next introductory email, remember that it’s a first step in a potential longer-term relationship, and let that guide your edits.

Happy hunting!

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