It'll come off much better if it's well-worded but simple and to-the-point. The more fluffy sentences you add to your email, blog post, internet comment or product copy, the less professional it starts to sound.
Be direct in your requests, include enough details (pick the right ones!), say thank you, and cut out everything else.
Therefore, be brief when you can, but always..be polite.
I've done this in the past and been the recipient. It just goes bad.
Busy people work on short terse communication, unless they are actively in a conversation with you. And, in general, they will appreciate the first few emails you send them being of the same - condensed and full of content.
Never worry about being rude by not saying please every other word.
On another note, I mildly dislike this one:
Show your target respect by responding to everything immediately. Just because the VC you're emailing might not get back to you immediately, doesn't mean that you have the same privilege. Ron Conway famously makes immediately email responses a pre-condition for investment.
I'm a busy guy, I get a LOT of work email each day. And yet the people we work for seem to see slow response as an indication of laziness :S Even though it takes them a week to respond. Yes, you're important to me, you are potentially worth a lot of money to me and I really want to keep you happy. But give me a fracking chance!
So, investors, cut founders a bit of slack :)
Also, there's a pecking order. If you are some unknown founder who really needs Conway you should respond as fast as humanly possible. On the other hand, if Conway wants something from Steve Jobs he probably should respond quickly.
Which is not really what that point was saying.
I just think that the time between sending and email and a reply is not a good measure of how important you are to that person. Certainly, if someone replied within a few seconds of my email to them I'd have to pause and question why they responded so fast. Are they literally desperate for my input? Why? (of course, usually being desperate for that input is fine, and part of being excited to have a chance with someone who can really help you - but occasionally it is a marker of someone dodgy).
Basically: it seems something of a shallow way to judge things.
wait half an hour, and the emailing session of your potential investor could be over, and your response would be buried under other important bullshit in their inbox.
At the end say "[more detail below if needed]". Draw a line in the email ===== and include more detail below that they can dip into if necessary.
What you describe is basically an inverse pyramid news article.
Putting it into 5 sentences is where the art comes in...
Some stuff that makes it easier:
- understand that I am likely to read your email on an iPhone. keep it brief, don't write an essay.
- if i reply and say something like "interesting, please send an executive summary" or "i'd love to see a demo" then do that or offer something equivalent/better. i do not want to meet you to see your demo, etc etc etc.
- don't ask for extremely unlikely things and expect a reply
- it takes me a week or two to get to low-priority stuff. don't email me and ask for a detailed response within an hour. if you do have a deadline, tell me so, so i can prioritize appropriately. i'm looking at you, journalists.
- if you are pitching a startup, don't pitch investors who have clear and obvious conflicts.
- if you are offering an advisory role, be up front about offering equity or something.
that said, i try my best. that guy who had acquisition questions a few months ago on Ask HN? i got him to someone who got the deal done.
That's why I'm so sad when people view my inability to get to email in a timely fashion as a proxy for my interest or the type of person I am.
I just get a ton of email and it's impossible to respond to it all, much less in a timely fashion. I'll try my best to get to it all, but if for some reason you haven't heard back in awhile try again and again. If nothing else I'll notice your determination and provide some feedback.
Maybe people in your situation should use a pull method (~on demand messages) using a web service for this purpose. People who want to get in touch with you see the number of messages in the queue and you may pushback (temporarily suspending message submission) and provide priority to users. They'll see their queue position and eventully some feedback once processed tldr, not understood, contact me @xxx, ...
If someone repeatedly puts effort into emails to me then I will respond because they deserve that much for taking the time.
5 sentences often is too much. If you can get it down to 3 sentences (or even 1 or 2 with judicious subject line) that is better. Just state the situation and what action you request.
For christ's sake, above all, don't resort to voicemail.
If you're working with someone who doesn't "get" email, even if they think they do, you do everyone a favor by manning up and calling when you have to and meeting in person when possible.
Four lines is not short. Nobody cares about your blog, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
I sign my emails either "--Jon" or "Regards, Jonathan Rockway" depending on who the intended recipient is. If you want to read my blog, just type my name into the nearest search engine.
For personal emails I don't use a signature, I just sign it. For business emails I sign the email and have a signature line with my name, title, business group, phone numbers, and group website. --This information fits on one line and is easy to refer to or ignore as per the recipient's needs.
Do people send "thanks" emails at the end of a discussion? Sometimes I'll have a discussion with someone online. Sometimes there's no more to say, and I always wonder if I should send a "thanks" email. No content, but just something to close the loop and a minor show of gratitude. But it seems wasteful. In a verbal converation it's a no-brainer to just say, "thanks for the time", but in email its not clear if its better to do it or to just end the convo by not sending another.
As it is, how to actually email busy people is an entire window scroll away.
This I cannot agree with, however. I receive a fair amount of email, and I just cannot stand when people do this. It annoys me to no end and will most likely earn an instant-delete to the email.
Worst case… at least repeat the subject in the body. Also it annoys me to no end when messages aren't formulated in correct english. (Text-speak is a big no-no.)
A little shameless self-promotion, that's exactly one of the use-cases we envisioned for our company's product, Momentomail ( http://www.momentomail.com ).
My co-founder and I actually do this with each other, schedule messages so they'll be received sometime in the morning when we're both likely to be working through our mail queue from the end of the day and night before.
I also use the Boomerang plugin for Gmail to schedule my emails to be sent at 9:30 AM, local time of the recipient (you want to be at the top of the inbox when he grabbed his coffee and starts going through his emails).
This is akin to the "one-line hook" in online dating: http://www.onlinedatingmatchmaker.com/match-messages/
I'm going to try some of these tips, but would an email with 'Seeking Sponsorship' in the subject get caught in your personal spam filter?
i tried to use http://three.sentenc.es/, but as i am not a native english speaker, it's hard for me to be compact AND understandable at the same time.
i noticed that busy people themselves tend to write very short letters: a pair of questions, no hello/goodbye, nothing personal. seeing that, i started to think that writing five sentences is a respect for their attention and time; i include the disclaimer (signature) to the bottom to indicate that i am not just a dumb, but trying to be short for the recipient's sake.
if they ask specific questions, i elaborate in many sentences (just like i do now :), and then they sometimes don't respond (if we didn't met) or respond after a month (if a person knows me personally). i right imagine how they see the Tolstoy's War and Peace novel, get upset, but as they generally like me, move my lame english masterpiece to some Later folder and move on.
the initial cold emails of any number of sentences stay 90% unanswered.
thrice i shot messages on facebook to the complete strangers that i read about in press (3 sentences: "cograts with new post, would you consider project like ours, if would, i'd be glad to blah blah blah"). and once i got a respond, which forced me to write a long letter which was also answered...
so i dont know if it really works (cold emails are unlucky by nature), but i like to think that being short is a new form of politeness.
(i even tend not to write cold emails at all now! zero sentences, hehe)
now it's just a simple...would your company be interested in X...and if they say yes...thats when I send the rest of the details
nobody wants to read through as you try to explain all the reasons for your conclusion. if you can't draw them in in the first line, you've lost them