Liz Wessel was just 24 years old when she and cofounder JJ Fliegelman started their company, WayUp — a site used by hundreds of thousands of college students to find jobs at places like Microsoft, Uber, The New York Times, Disney, and Google, where Wessel previously worked.
“We had a combined four years of full-time work experience, so there were often times that employees would ask us questions that we couldn’t answer or would ask us for advice that we didn’t want to get wrong,” she says. “So, we started encouraging the team to cold email people who would better know the answer.”
Wessel says to this day, she still “dares” her employees to reach out to those they admire.
During a trip to California in early 2015 she challenged her entire team to take advantage of the fact that they were surrounded by some of the greatest minds in tech.
“I told everyone to cold email one expert in Silicon Valley who they normally wouldn’t have the guts to email and who they wouldn’t be able to meet in New York City, where we’re based,” she says.
Business Insider asked Wessel, who has had success with cold emailing, to share her top tips for getting someone to open your email. Here’s what she said:
1. Make the message personal. Do you have anything in common? Say what it is.
2. Keep the email short and sweet. If the person is busy, he or she won’t want (or have time) to read an essay.
3. Say what you want to get out of the meeting, and let it be something small. “I’d like to pick your brain,” or “I’d love to get your advice on something” are appropriate asks. Never, ever ask for too much — like a job — in this first email!
4. Have an eye-catching subject line. And keep it fairly short and to the point.
5. Make yourself sound interesting enough that the person wants to meet with you. But never lie or brag.
6. Thank the person for his or her time and consideration. They will appreciate that more than you might think.
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