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Cover E-mails: How to Write Them for the Best Possible Response.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe (Dec 6, 2009) features an article by Scott Kirsner, their respected technology columnist, “How to Make the Most of Your E-mail to Get Prompt Replies.” Coincidentally, we covered a similar topic at our meeting on Nov 23 when we discussed the cover e-mail. A few of the conclusions that we came to: 1) Don’t make cover e-mails too long: more like 3–5 paragraphs than a full page, and, for the most part, keep paragraphs relatively short; 2) Include as many proper nouns as you can in your e-mail, e.g., prior employers, clients, products you worked on, quantitative results, and even the location of the companies; 3) Be direct and concise, even conversational in your tone, but avoid puffery, clichés and bloviation at all costs; 4) Use bullet points or numbered items (like this) to make it easier on the reader; 5) If someone has referred you to the recipient, include their name in the subject line and in the first paragraph of the e-mail; 6) Use the pronoun “you” as much as you can and avoid too many “I’s” as you want to focus on what you can do for them, not what you’ve done in past  for yourself; and 7) Always add a “signature” to the e-mail with any relevant contact information you want them to have, especially a phone number. There’s more, as you’ll see in Kirsner’s article, but these are the kinds of issues that we all face with e-mail and the principles that a smart group of marketers can pull together in 45 minutes of animated discussion and review. If there is one conclusion I think those of us there would agree on is that we all have our own styles, and we won’t all agree on what and how someone writes such an e-mail, so relax and do the best you can! A cover e-mail is better sent now than left to languish in your Draft Folder for days on end.

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