1. Be personal. Unlike tweeting or mass advertising, emails should be personal. Your inbox is not a broadcast station. If you have someone's email, you should know their name. Use it. Don't copy or blind copy everyone and their mother on your note with a generic greeting.
Show the recipient that you care and respect them enough to want to connect. Talk about your mutual friend, your fellow obsession with kale, or how you respect their hobby/company/daughter and why. Make it easy and enjoyable to have a written conversation with you.
2. Be purposeful. People can't read minds, so if you're just sending information or praise without a call to action, you're missing out. Tell the recipient exactly what you want. It's great that you just started a business or it sucks that you're experiencing problems at work. But you need to follow through. End your email with a specific request:
3. Be persistent. You're allowed to follow up. If someone doesn't get back to you and your request is important, keep trying. Everyone is busy these days, and it's up to you to advocate for yourself. Just stay positive and upbeat. One trick is to never mention how many times you've already contacted the person; you don't want to make it awkward or uncomfortable to speak with you.
And in that vein, don't cross to the creepy side. Being persistent doesn't mean being pushy or that you have to resort to begging. Simply remain confident in your reason for reaching out, and learn to understand the difference.
4. Be polite. Say "thank you," express appreciation for the recipient's time, and be genuine about it. Remember, no one owes you anything. An enthusiastic "thank you" makes your recipient feel good, which in turn makes them want to help you. They don't get anything else in return, so make sure your gratitude isn't an afterthought.
When you follow these four P's to pitching, not only will you build a positive reputation, but you'll also receive better responses and results.
Do you follow email etiquette? Share your practical tips.
Rebecca Thorman's goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. Her blog Kontrary offers career, business, and life advice that works. She writes from Washington, D.C.