It’s a sad fact of life that the volume of business emails seems to increase, just at the point in people’s careers when they have the least amount of time to answer messages. As a result, it can be pretty hard to get answers from important folks, whether it’s your boss’s boss or some bigwig you met at a conference.
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1. Keep it short.
Don’t make people wade through your whole biography in order to get to the point. Sure, you want to give the reader context for your request, but a simple explanation of how you know them or what you’re working on will suffice. Then, get to the meat of what you want.
2. Make it readable.
Formatting is your friend. Make sure your email isn’t a block of uninterrupted text. Keep paragraphs short, and if you have a question, make it a separate line. Griffel even suggests using bolding, if it’s to call out a request. (Just don’t overuse it. The goal isn’t to make your email look like a celebrity gossip column.)
3. Be reasonable.
“If I can respond to something in less than two minutes, I’ll do it immediately,” writes Griffel. “What do you want feedback on? The business model? The color of your button? The text? Be specific and reasonable.”
In other words, don’t ask a famous writer to read your 500-page novel, and don’t expect the mogul you just saw on The Daily Show to read your entire business plan. Ask for something that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time and effort, and you’re much more likely to get a response.
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