By David Ly Khim

Networking emails, aka cold emails are horrible. They’re a pain to write and people usually don’t respond to them.

But networking emails crucial to making new connections, especially if you’re trying to grow a business or get ahead in your career.

You have other options, but they don’t make the cut.

  • Reach out via Twitter? There’s so much noise that you won’t get noticed.
  • Connect on LinkedIn? Your message or request to connect will just get ignored.
  • Forget cold-calling. You have a 5 percent chance that someone will even answer your call.
  • Networking events? They can get expensive and it’s just too much effort for little return.

Email is still the predominant channel to build relationships with new people.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Brian Balfour, VP of Growth at Sidekick, about networking emails.

He receives hundreds of networking emails every day, but he only responds to about 20 percent of them. He shared a useful pointers on writing an effective networking email that even a busy person like him wouldn’t ignore.

So let’s go over three steps to make sure your next networking email is top notch and impossible to ignore.

1. Research. In just 10-15 minutes, you can find information about a person’s interests, history, and communication style. With this information, you know exactly what to talk about in your email to instantly build familiarity.

Find their social media profiles, questions they’ve answered on Quora, and do a Google search for their name. The information you find might be crucial for developing rapport with them and speaking in terms of their interests.

For example, if you take a look at Brian’s about page on his website, you’ll find out that he likes college football. You wouldn’t find that information anywhere else. Now you know to mention something about college football in your email to him.

2. Warm them up. The goal of the warm up is to make your name look familiar to the person before sending them an email.

Here are three simple ways to do this:

  • Retweet a tweet they’re mentioned in
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Respond to their questions

The best part is that you don’t need a response. They’ll log in to their profile to see what they’ve missed and they’ll see your name attached with the value of a retweet, a follow, or a useful answer.

3. Connect. The moment we’ve been waiting for: when you actually send the email. Here are three things to do in your first email:

  • Don’t start with “Hi, my name is …” It screams cold email and they’ll see your name at the end of the email anyway.
  • Stroke their ego. Humans crave recognition so give them it. Tell them you shared their work or tell them how they had an impact on your life.
  • Add value (and whatever you do, don’t ask for anything).

Quick tip: Send your email in the evening. You’ll increase your chances of receiving a response.

The most difficult part is providing value. “Providing value” could mean anything, so here are some examples:

  • Feature them in an article you write
  • Share a high quality and helpful article or book on a topic of interest. Better yet, buy and send the Kindle version of the book to them.
  • Introduce them to someone they would find valuable.

The point of your reach out email is to put their best interest before anything else. You’re not trying to get anything out of the conversation.

Here’s an example of a good networking email Brian has received:

Hey Brian,
I loved your post on Building Growth Teams.*1 I shared *2 it with 3 other friends that I know are facing similar challenges and they all said they immediately subscribed to your blog.
Your’s and Seth Godin’s *3 writing have been very influential on my own work.
There are two other incredible posts on team building I read recently that you might be interested in. Creating High Performance Teams on Harvard Business Review, and A Study Of The Top 1 Percent Team done by a researcher at Stanford. *4
I hope you enjoy!
Andrew Thomas
Marketing Manager @ Acceleration Partners

Now let’s look at what Andrew did.

Tip *1: Being specific. Pointing out a specific post rather than a generic “I love your work.”

Tip *2: Adding value by sharing their work with others.

Tip *3: Stroking the ego by comparing with a world-renowned author/marketer.

Tip *4: Being helpful. Sharing two high-quality pieces of content related to their interests.

How’s that for a bulletproof networking email?

Follow these three simple steps and you’re that much closer to writing an effective networking email that no one can ignore.

David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick by HubSpot where he writes about email organization and productivity. Stay connected at @davidlykhim.