How to email any professional:
Templates & Tips
You just attended a talk conducted by a banker or a consultant. You managed to talk to that person and you have got a very prized business card. Now you want to write an email refreshing his memory, asking for a call or just staying in touch.
How do you do that? What do you write?
Obviously, these professionals are busy, so I suggest you to keep it email respectful, short and sweet. Aim for anything no longer than 3-5 sentences. Make it really easy to say yes. Lead them into saying yes. As a teaser, I have written three little tips and three simple email templates for different scenarios below. Use and customize them! Try and learn from you experience. The more you do, the better you will get.
Template #1. Email to a Senior Banker / Consultant about a talk they conducted
Dear Mr. Banker / Consultant / Manager / Senior Manager,
It was a pleasure meeting you at the XYZ session this evening. I was the psychology student who asked you about running marathons and banking.
I really liked your talk about your experience for the ABC project experience and I’d love to learn more from you about life and careers as a banker / consultant.
Might I be able to call you sometime this week?
Template #2. Email to a Senior Banker / Consultant about career
Dear Mr. Banker / Consultant / Manager / Senior Manager,
It was a pleasure meeting you at the XYZ session this evening. I was the political science student who asked you about boxing and consulting.
I really learned about from your experience working as a consultant. Your sharing on a strategy project for a Fortune top 10 was amazing – I’d love to learn more from you about life and careers as a management consultant.
Might I be able to have a quick 15-minute call with you sometime this week, say Wednesday 2pm? Alternatively, I’m happy to accommodate your schedule.
Template #3. Email to an Analyst or Associate:
Hi [Cool Banker],
It was great meeting you at the info session today. I was the student with whom you discussed paragliding / Instagram Staking (I’m kidding…).
I had such a great time meeting you and I’m really excited about the UBS Sponsors Group / [Your Company] Leadership Academy. May I schedule a 15-min call with you to learn more about how I can prepare myself for this wonderful opportunity?
Will this Wednesday 3pm work for you? Alternatively, I’m happy to accommodate your schedule.
All the best,
Tip #1. Make it easy for them to say yes.
You have a couple options here. But the principle should be the same: make it really easy for them to say yes. I recommend a call for 15 minutes. Because the first thing they are going to think about is: what if you are weird? So you need to make it safe for them in case they think you are weird. So, 15 minute is not too bad, plus it’s just a call. So, if you are weird, or, in some cases, they are, then no one gets hurt. Either case, in 15 minutes you can get to know them pretty well and they can get to know you pretty well.
Three things can happen. 1) They are okay with the call. 2) They don’t reply at all. 3) They ask you what you want to know.
In this case, they reply and ask you what in particular would you like to know. It’s a good sign that they reply. So, seize that opportunity by showing them that you have done your homework. And say that your call / meeting really is about validating your hypothesis that you have formed based on your research. You can mention some of the pointers in the email but keep it no longer than 10 sentences and under 3 key points.
Insider Tips: It’s really similar to manage consulting work or any professional job that requires you to be just that: a professional. As a professional, you don’t rely on your client to tell you what it’s right for them because what’s the point of having you here. But it’s almost impossible to give someone a good answer without knowing where they are at with a problem. So, it’s the professional’s job to guess. Yes. To guess based on your research, experience, and insights. So the meeting doesn’t start from ground zero but something concrete.
Tip #2. Make them pre-committed to you by hinting that you will follow up.
There is a principle in persuasion called “commitment and consistency”. It’s one of the books in my upcoming article on “Books that graduates must read to get ahead in life.” People like to be consistent and do what they say they will do. The trick is to get people to say yes to something insignificant and then ask for more gradually. It’s the classic example of getting your foot into the door first.
Here is second tip and something I recommend you making it a habit whenever you get a business card from someone or meet someone in a business event.
Look at the business card, read aloud their name and title or department. Then look them in the eyes, say: “This is awesome. Is it okay if I send you questions and updates via email?”
It will be hard for them to say no to you on the spot. It’s just hard. I mean who in the world would be so cruel to turn down a simple ask from a student that is young and innocent? If they jokingly half-turn you down by saying “Sure, but I’m usually busy. You know?” Then say with a smile, “Yes, of course, and it must feel great for you to be able to make time and help answer students’ question here. I really appreciated your time.”
If that person turns out to be asshole, then forget it. It’s about you. It’s about what you do, not what their reactions are. Focus on developing a process excellence, i.e. make it a habit to step out of the comfort zone by connecting with the speaker with the practice above.
Tip #3. Offer to keep them in the loop via email.
Here is another thing you can do. Instead of asking for a 15-min call, just to offer to just keep them in the loop via email. You can use a sentence like this in the follow-up email: “Is it okay if I send you questions and updates via email?” My friend sends occasional emails and keeps her senior partners updated on her recent accomplishments. Even though I’m currently too inexperienced to be worth his or her time, who knows what opportunities may lie in the future?
CareerTipsHK: The above is something that I promised to write for my younger friends. And some actual questions that I got from the 2016 Career Strategy & Planning Workshop at PolyU. I believe this tips and practices will help you build your network, whether you are a young student, penultimate student, or even a young professional that just got started in your career. The principle is the same. Be respectful by doing your homework first. Keep the email clear and short (Read how to write email in this article.). Make the action required from them really clear. Offer to send them email updates over the course of your recruiting season / professional development. Experiment and test often. Most importantly, keep learning and developing yourself. The network you build will pay dividend in the future.
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