J. Kelly Hoey

Do Your Research To Warm Up That Cold Email #BYDN

A question I’m routinely asked on the #BYDN book tour: How do you send a more effective cold email?

Insert some timeless networking principles into that email before you send it.

What makes an email “cold” is not the fact that you don’t really know the person you’re sending an inquiry or resume to…what makes that email cold is the lack of networking generosity behind the email. Networking — regardless of email, voicemail, meetups, LinkedIn etc. — is still about generosity. The give before you get. Your give to the recipient of your “cold” email is do some real legwork and research before you send that email.

Why does this company REALLY need your product or service? You can only know that if you’ve delved into their world. What’s the challenge they are facing? Competitors? Regulatory change? Hostile takeover? Do you even know? Now, how can you make their life easier, better, smarter… I suspect you’ve imagined how the target of your cold email can help you, however, how can you really add value to them? A cover email that proclaims you’re “diligent, hardworking, detail focused” rings hollow (and cold) if you’ve not taken the care to delve below that surface on why you’re the right person for the job.

 I learned a lot, I mean a whole lot, about the art of the cold email from interviewing venture capitalist Jessica Peltz-Zatulove for my book — and I learned a lot not because Jessica’s the constant recipient of cold emails in her current job! No, back in 2002 Jessica was university grad in search of a job in the Big Apple (a city where she had no connections). Not knowing anyone was the least of her challenges: her job search came on the heels of 9/11 and the dotcom bust. She needed to be smart and very strategic. In that uncertain job market, a cold email would be received as warmly as a snow-storm in New York City in March in a recipient’s inbox. A little of what Jessica shares in #BYDN: I began my media-agency job search by subscribing to Ad Age (plus getting my hands on every other printed trade publication out there). I had to not only understand New York advertising agencies but, more important, just like in the series Mad Men, I needed to know who was winning new business from the big brands. Here’s what I did:
  • I studied where the client accounts were moving between advertising agencies. Then I researched the names of the executives who were being quoted or recruited away as a result of landing the new business.
  • I created a handwritten notebook of the news and updates from every major agency. LinkedIn was new and not the information-rich platform it is today, so I managed my re- search efforts the old-fashioned way: highlighting news articles and using Post-it notes!
  • Armed with all this industry intelligence, I sent my résumé, together with a customized cover letter, to the senior executives I had researched, congratulating them on winning the new business, then pointing out their need to be staffing up to manage the new client account.
You may not be searching for a job on Madison Avenue, however, inserting a little of Jessica’s job-search strategy into you sales / partnership / career search or change technique I strongly suspect will make your cold email, more warmly received.

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