As part of my work building the Israeli and American tech community in NYC, a lot of entrepreneurs contact me and ask for my advice/help/time/money/effort in order to assist them with their ventures and personal goals.
Now usually I love helping entrepreneurs and I respond to about %98 of cold emails, but sometimes people do it so wrong that I just feel my time is better spent elsewhere.
Tips on how to write cold emails
When you’re an entrepreneur, a founder, a CEO of a startup, 99% of the time you’re worried about fundraising.
It’s the last fucking thing you want to be dealing with right now, and you’d be so happy to “just get it over with” and go back to building your product and grow your business or develop a new feature, but that’s life. And fundraising is a crucial part in the success of your company as much as any other aspect.
One thing most entrepreneurs fail to understand (and believe me, I’ve done this mistake several times till it hit me), is that fundraising is much more about building relationship than having a great traction or couple of big clients. Investors/Advisors/Finders are people god dammit, why do we keep forgetting it?!
If you are on a fundraising spree or doing a roadshow with your startup, this is the things you need to pay attention to before you send out a cold email:
- Don’t be arrogant – No one is working for you and it doesn’t matter how well your startup is doing, if the founder is arrogant and condescending, no one will want to work with him. Work hard on your humility
- Research about the person! What is he doing beside his main job. Does he have a blog? Is he doing some voluntary work at an organization? What hobbies does he have?
- Facebook is not for cold messages – I know a lot of us are spending too much time scrolling down the Facebook feed and interacting with people and brands on the social platform but there is one rule a lot of entrepreneurs are forgetting:
Facebook messenger = Friends messages // Email = Business messages
- Give before you take! Most investors and high networking individuals use social media a lot. Follow them on twitter and facebook, leave a comment on their blog post, answer their question on quora. Make some sort of initial contact and try to be helpful to that person so he will remember your name and you won’t come as a total stranger.
- Share a compliment! So you learned about this investor, you follow his blog posts, now it’s your time to shine with the cold email. Start with a nice compliment. It cost you nothing and it makes the other person feels good about himself, so why not?!
- Respect his time! Entrepreneurs usually think that everyone else is chilling at the beach while they work their ass off on their startup. NOT TRUE! Investors have very little time and everyone is trying to get a piece out of it. Show that you’re aware of this fact and respect the other person’s time. Be flexible and offer alternatives (not just a coffee, there’s skype/phone call/email) so it would be harder for him to say no.
- Ask for advice! Don’t ask for money right of the bat, remember fundraising is about relationships! Ask for some advice. Investors are usually more open for this non committing meeting and will be glad to give you some tips and guidance for the road.
- Call to action – Last but not least, explain what you want (skype call / coffee / feedback on the idea) otherwise you will get ignored as the people you are trying to reach are too busy guessing the needs of entrepreneurs sending them cold emails.
- Follow up – Don’t give up. He didn’t answer? not a problem, try again couple of days later. Show that you are serious in building this relationship and not just shopping around for investors. People will respect you for being persistent (not pushy, persistent).
Bonus – How you should write cold emails!
This is how pro’s do it!
I first met Elie Jacobs at an Israeli American event in New York, he’s a public affairs executive (which means he build relationships for a living) and we only exchanged couple of words. See how simple it can be to create a meeting.
*Yes, we did met in person so it’s not a “cold email” per say but it was very brief introduction and very similar to what you can get from social media connections.
I covered the identify of the individuals as this post isn’t about public shaming but more about giving tips and educating.
What do you think about cold emails? What is your technique? Share it in the comments below.