1. Start like a screenwriter: you need to know your end game
Like a good novelist or screenwriter, you need to know where you’re headed before you set off. By the end of your note, you’re going in for the close: you are going to ask for a face-to-face meeting, at their earliest convenience.
Remember: no close, no point. To have a hope, you’ve got to get your reader to the end with boring or irritating them. Bear this in mind, the whole time. You have to get straight to the point, then make all supplementary points in an ultra-economical, yet catchy fashion.
2. Represent you to the fullest, in one killer line
Before you sit down at your computer, spend an hour with a pad and paper working out the best way to distil your offer into one killer line, which makes you sound undeniably proficient and useful.
I specialise in writing informative content with a human interest angle and just the right level of audience-appropriate wit.
Take your time with this sentence, you’ll be using it over and again. You should also have a few one-liners to describe your most eye-catching experience e.g:
- I’ve written for the Guardian several times.
- I also ghost write for a best-selling author.
For an initial message, this level of detail is ‘hooky’ and easily-digested, particularly when given a lot of white space around them to breathe. I suggest always delivering the highlights one per line, i.e. as a short standalone paragraph in itself.
3. Don’t be a stranger, be a stalker (only non-crazies need apply)
Anything you can do beforehand to not be a completely ‘cold call’ is a massive step in the right direction. If you can get a virtual intro, or meet the target at a network, amazing, but if not, a little light social media stalking can work wonders. If you look at their LinkedIn profile, primal curiosity might well mean they look at yours. Answer their question on Twitter, they might favourite your tweet - or even re-tweet it.
Keep it charming. Don’t go over the top. But don’t assume they’ll hate the attention either - like Noel Gallagher says, you’re nobody until you’ve got at least one stalker.
4. Know your target’s business
Your mail must feel unique to your target. Never mail merge targets you really want to work with; IMHO you shouldn’t be targeting companies you don’t really want to work with anyway.
Life’s too short.
So do your homework, trawl industry news and pertinent social media channels. If an agency has a new client win or a label has signed a new artist or a key team member has moved jobs, you need to know. It pays to show you’ve done your research. It lets them know you care.
5. The one-line ass kiss
Nobody likes an ass-kisser - unless they are smooth, subtle sycophants who move directly into adding more value than unabashed ego rubbing. It’s great foreplay and a vital cog in the works, but allow yourself a single sentence of butt-kissing - and no more. Pucker up, then move on, apace.
Consider words like: interesting, impressive, quality, great work etc. Again don’t go OTT, you’re giving a nod, not acting like a Directioner writing fan-fic.
6. Don’t be flat, be 3D
It’s very easy to drift into being deadly boring if you’re not careful. Using active, every day concepts and phrases will help present you as a likeable person, not just a viable vessel of skills and experience.
Active phrases like ‘get involved’ are powerful, as they are non-threatening and energetic.
Asking to, ‘Hear about what you’ve got going on,’ adds a human, direct non-abstract feel to ‘learn more about your company and upcoming projects.’
Never forget the old adage that people buy people: if you’re too robotic or formal, you’re effectively de-humanising yourself. Being professional and human are not mutually exclusive, never forget that.