How To Email a Busy Person And Get a ResponseLet’s say you needed to email an important person out of the blue.

Maybe it’s a hiring manager at a company you’re interested in working at. Maybe it’s some type of outreach marketing email for your current job.

Learning how to email a busy person requires a little finesse and psychology. I know people who’ve tried to schedule a call with a busy person, and after repeated back-and-forth scheduling emails, the busy person simply responded with, “Sorry, I just don’t have time.”

Your goal is to minimize the back and forth communication and make it easy for the busy person to find time to talk to you. Here are five important tactics to keep in mind when you write that email.

You (the lower-status person) should initiate the call, but provide your phone number in case they (the higher-status person) want to speak to you right now

By the way, don’t get offended by the use of the phrase “lower-status.” Let’s be candid: If you want something from someone else, in this situation, you are of lower status, looking to level up by talking to this person.

Whether it’s less famous, less wealthy, less successful, less important, or less busy, that’s just the way it is. Remember, YOU want something from THEM. It’s important to recognize this and work around the busy person’s schedule.

Make It So Easy, They Don’t Have To Think

You can’t ask them to work around your schedule, but at the same time, you want to make it easy for them to say “yes.” Don’t put it on them to come up with a bunch of times that work.

Instead, offer them a couple of different options for times that would work for the call. That respects their schedule and leaves the final decision in their hands, but doesn’t require a lot of thought.

Send The Email When They’re The Most Likely To Read It

send an email to a busy person that actually takes the time to read itYou wouldn’t believe how many people email complex questions to a busy person on a Friday afternoon. Why? Why would you send something requiring lots of work to someone on their way out for a weekend?

If you don’t think about the busy person, you lose. To maximize your chance of getting a response, email a busy person when they’re most likely to read and actually process it.

In other words:

-Do NOT email a busy person on Monday morning

-Do NOT email a busy person on their birthday (unless it’s a simple happy birthday message)

Instead, think when they’re most apt to read and respond to an email. Maybe during lunch break? Maybe Sunday night when they’re prepping for their week?

Check The Formatting Of Your Email Message

Bad formatting can crash and burn even the most helpful, interesting email.

Use paragraph breaks and bullet points liberally to make your email easy to read.

For emails to higher-up executives, I suggest sending yourself a test email to make sure it’s readable and any URLs are clickable.

Use Correct Grammar And Spelling

Lazy typos signal laziness. Use proper punctuation and capitalization.

Don’t use lower case “i”s or texting abbreviations. An email should be more polished than a text message.

Always proofread your email. Let the reader focus on your well-crafted message, not the fact that you still do not know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

If you keep all of those in mind, you’ve got a great shot at getting a quick and positive response.

A Perfect Example and Why It Worked

I recently got an email from Ramit Sethi about this very subject and he gave an excellent example with reasons why it worked.

Here’s the email.

SUBJECT: UCSD soph will be in NYC next week – coffee?

Hi Ramit,

My name is Michelle and I’m a sophomore at UCSD, where I’m studying technology and psychology. I’ll be in New York next week and was wondering — can I take you to coffee?

[MUTUAL CONTACT #1] and [MUTUAL CONTACT #2] actually suggested I get in touch. I’ve been working on a persuasive technology project that might be interesting for your work at IWT.

How does next Thursday, 4/20 or Friday, 4/21 work? I’m free all day, especially the afternoon, and I can meet whenever is convenient for you.

Thanks,

– Michelle

My cell: XXX-XXX-XXXX

That email worked, and Ramit explains why.

  • She referenced two people who I knew, liked, and trusted. If they’re suggesting I get coffee with someone, I’m probably going to like them.
  • Her subject line (“UCSD soph will be in NYC next week – coffee?”) was phrased as an active question.
  • She came out swinging with something we have in common (an interest in technology and psychology).
  • She hints at “a persuasive technology project that might be interesting for your work at IWT.” Intriguing, but not hitting me over the head with an aggressive sales pitch. I want to know more!
  • Her ask was specific, but flexible. (“How does next Thursday, 4/20 or Friday, 4/21 work? I’m free all day, especially the afternoon, and I can meet whenever is convenient for you.”) I can tap out a short “yes” to one of those dates or toss out a date of my own choosing.

Conclusion

You can reach out to anyone in the world you want; the author of a book you love, the CEO of a business you want to work for, or someone you just want to meet. The last time you thought “man, if I could talk to _____ for 5 minutes, I could ____ so much faster” who came to mind?

Your mission if you choose to accept it: send that person an email like Michelle’s.

Your mission if you choose to accept it. Write an email to that hiring manager.
By Published On: May 10, 2021Categories: Writing How-To

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