How to Politely Follow Up on Cold Emails

How to Advance Your Career

Maybe you're looking for a new job. Or a new client. Or perhaps you're looking for someone who can help you publish a book, launch a speaking career, or make an introduction to a coveted contact. Whatever it is you need to help you take your career to the next level, one of the best ways to get it is networking. But what if you don't know the people you need to know in order to make your next career move possible? In that case, you might need to resort to sending a cold email -- maybe several of them, in fact, if you don't get a prompt response.

"One of the great parts of living in 2019 is that it's possible to reach (almost) anyone. Thanks to the wonders of email and DM, even massive celebrities and moguls are just a few well-crafted lines of text away," author Allen Gannett says in a recent article for Fast Company. "However, once you've crafted that initial message, the seemingly existential, anxiety-inducing question becomes: How often do you follow up?"

With the right follow-up etiquette, a cold email can yield amazing results. But with the wrong follow-up etiquette, the result of a cold email is often the cold shoulder.

The first secret to a successful follow-up, according to Gannett is the 3x3 rule. "This means following up a maximum of three times, with at least three business days apart. I've found this to be the ideal balance between persistent and annoying," he says.

With only three chances to plead your case, you've got to make the most of every message. To do so, be relatable and upfront. "Did you go to the same college? Mention it. Love the same favorite classic rock album? Tell them … Research shows that people feel an immediate affinity for people who share identities with them," Gannett continues. "Second, make a clear ask … Asking someone if you can 'pick their brain' is terrible; asking someone to 'talk about your career options' is clear and good."

Finally, be warm, not cold -- even though you're sending a cold email. "Remember, you are emailing a human and humans like to interact with people who bring them joy," Gannett concludes.

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