Coffee and Writing Effective Email Introductions

In a Perfect World
In a perfect business development world the very best scenario we could experience would be a telephone call to a potential new client, a polite conversation with an interested PA followed by immediate transfer to a decision maker who reacts like Saul on road to Damascus and clamours to arrange a meeting as soon as possible to discuss a major supplier agreement.
Subsequently your boss gives you the day off, the sun shines through grey clouds, you find £50 on the floor as you walk home, pretty girl / boy in coffee shop returns your smile ..... camera pans back, fade out to violin strings etc.
Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. Often introduction calls to new clients are screened by effective gatekeepers and sometimes no matter how hard you try that particular decision maker is not coming to the phone and is off limits. So what next?
Often the answer is "Email". A good email can get you noticed and can create a reaction that leads to a conversation, that leads to a meeting, that leads to a supply opportunity.
Before I open up with my ideas of what makes a good Email Introduction I will, here and now, state on record that no matter how brilliantly clever your email may be it will never, ever come close to an even average business development call.
A conversation offers more opportunity to find out information, create sales opportunities and ask for commitment than email ever can. So don't use email as a substitute for calling and don't hide behind your computer.
Right on with the opinion and advice concerning introducing yourself by email:
The Basics
  1. Get the name and address right.
  2. Use the tried and tested googlestring "email * *" to find out email format and then to check it works.
  3. No blank subject lines or subject lines with !! ££ $$ - if it looks like spam, it is spam.
  4. Do your home work and make sure you're emailing the right person.


Understand the Recipient

On opening they will ask four questions you need to answer without ambiguity with your email:

  1. Why are you emailing me?
  2. What's in it for me?
  3. What do I need to do?
  4. What happens next?

Keep all four questions in mind when you draft your email. Read and then re-read the finished email to make sure it answers them.


Your Opening

  1. Dear First Name..... Dear Mr or Mrs Whateversurname, although polite, will put people on their guard that you don't know them and should therefore be treated with suspicion (cue cursor hovering over delete icon)
  2. "I'm writing because ...." One sentence explaining why you're emailing and why they should keep reading. The word "because" is important as it helps them understand why to keep reading and what's in it for them. Of course this is where your homework comes in handy as the reason to keep reading MUST be relevant.
  3. Here we are answering the "Why are you emailing me" question and potentially "What's in it for me" too.
  4. Coffee? A tip I often use is to end my opening with a request for a coffee sometime soon. If I use this line I tend to enter Coffee as my subject line too. For some reason I've had good success with this technique. I'm sure there is a business guru or psychologist out there that might be able to explain this success in scientific terms but perhaps it's simply because it's more informal than a request for a business meeting, it's not so demanding on time or resource, a coffee can happen before or after work or perhaps just because everyone loves coffee? Who knows ... try it and see if it works.


Middle Bit

  1. Don't lecture. The middle bit needs to maintain interest and the easiest way to lose an audience is to drone on and on about yourself or show off your amazing big brain and all the things in it. No one loves a bore.
  2. Give some more detail, provide insight, highlight relevant achievements (e.g. recent work with similar company) but keep it brief and keep them wanting to find out more.
  3. This middle bit should nail the "What's in it for me" question to the floor.
  4. Make sure it's readable; not great chunks of impenetrable text, jargon, slang, chumminess, rambling sentences. If you don't know how basic grammar works - Learn! Grammar is not an anachronism; it's what makes text readable.



  1. Sign off politely and formally; e.g. Regards or Yours Sincerely etc.
  2. Include an answer to the "What next happens next?" question floating around the reader's mind; e.g. I'll call this Friday to arrange a time and place for coffee (and surely I don't need to remind you dear blog reader that you then actually have to do what you said you'll do and make the call?).
  3. Forget attachments. People don't have time for attachments and can sometimes get you caught in firewalls etc.
  4. Include your contact details. Sounds simple but I get emails from people without telephone numbers, mobile, web sites and email address included at the end. Sloppy stuff.
  5. Give them the opportunity to locate your Linkedin profile, Twitter feed, blog etc.



PROOF READ THE DAMN THING BEFORE SENDING - Easiest way to fire both barrels into your feet is to send without checking. So check and then check again.

Views: 7540

Comment by Candace Nault on November 16, 2011 at 8:32pm
Great info, thank you for sharing!


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