Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Top four email mistakes to avoid when you've got a referral

You've probably used a referral to ask a stranger for an informational interview or a chance to talk about your business. If you make your initial contact by email, please avoid these common mistakes:
  • Burying the name of your mutual acquaintance in the body of your email
  • Not making it clear immediately what you're seeking
  • Not identifying yourself clearly and succinctly
  • Putting the burden on the other party to follow up

When I've got a referral, I often put the referrer's name into my subject line. For example, "Allan Loomis referred me" or "Allan Loomis suggested I talk with you." The familiarity of that person's name raises the odds that the recipient will open your message.

People are busy. They don't want to read a long email to figure out what you want from them. Back in my job hunting days, I would have led with "Allan Loomis suggested I contact you for a brief informational interview about how you manage your investment-related writing needs." Only then would I give a brief blurb about my combination of investment knowledge and journalism experience.

You can write "I look forward to hearing from you." But don't expect your recipient to follow up. The burden is on you because you're the person requesting the favor. I increasingly find myself writing "I will call you follow up."

Pay attention to these tips and you'll increase your odds of success.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Can you help a reporter and get quoted in an article?

There's a free and easy way to learn about opportunities to be quoted in an article. It's Peter Shankman's "If I can help a reporter out" email list.

Sign up and you'll get several emails daily listing what reporters are looking for. The emails also give the reporter's contact information.

It's up to you to winnow out appropriate opportunities and contact the reporter. Please don't reply if you don't fit the reporter's needs. There's nothing more annoying to a reporter. Plus, you almost guarantee that reporter won't look to you as a source in the future.

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