Module 4: Networking
COLD EMAIL + SCRIPT
1) Subject Line
It is fair to say that your subject line is 80% of the battle.
If you can get this right you’ll get your email opened. If you don’t however, you’ll go straight to the trash can every single time, even if your email itself is super compelling.
After split testing dozens of different subject lines across a huge variety of bankers, HR and recruiters, as a student, I quickly learned what worked and what sucked.
And more recently when we surveyed the whole IIB team and asked what do you actually click on and what do you move straight to the junk folder, the differences between subject lines that work and don’t, became even clearer.
Put simply, the subject line has to be relevant and interesting to the banker, and as few words as possible.
On the surface it seems like a tough ask and when most students send in emails with 10+ word subject lines rambling on about recruiting/resumes/interview questions, it seems few are up for the challenge.
But here’s how you do it…
In the 6-8 word subject line simply mention who told you about them or how you know about them AND add on a metric/your reason for contacting. We’ll explore both of these immediately below.
A quick example would be:
“Chuck Chuckford recommendation + 2 quick questions”
– with Chuck being the person who told you to contact Larry (and gave you his contact info) and 2 easy questions being the focus of the email.
Now some of you will probably be tempted to add in an “Re:” so the email looks like it is a reply to something Larry sent.
Do NOT do it.
Larry will see in an instant that this threadless email is not that at all. He’ll feel duped. Now he won’t just send your email to trash, he’ll actively blacklist your ass!
2) Dear Mr Larryson
No “Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern” or some other impersonal BS. If you don’t know their name, you shouldn’t be emailing.
3) Who Or How You Came About Their Contact Info
This is the headline to stop them dead in their tracks, or to at least make the email hypnotic and hard not to read.
Obviously it is best if you can say ‘who’ gave you their details, eg if you can say “Chuck Chuckford recommended I speak to you” and assuming Larry cares about Chuck, he’ll read the email.
But if all you have is ‘how’ you got the details, eg if you attended an event Larry spoke at etc, that will do.
Just make sure to specify the exact event/date etc, so it jogs Larry’s memory.
4) Why You’re Contacting Them
Mention how you are interested in learning more about their bank and IB in general. Make it clear that you ONLY want to learn though.
You can explicitly say you are not looking for job opportunities or recruitment advice.
By doing this you will help Larry put his guard down, as he doesn’t feel like he is simply getting used by another student as a way in for an official interview or ‘resume pass’. i.e. you can’t actually use Larry, until you have built a relationship with him.
So make sure your initial intentions look pure/innocent.
And then of course, after enough time and exchanges have passed, you can start using Larry for real recruitment advice, referrals and help.
Unfortunately most students simply do NOT get this. And instead they act like a horny freshman on date 1…instead of going in for a little kiss after round 1 of drinks, they go straight for the freaking bra hook!
[Yeah I had to resort back to the whole dating analogy…it just seems so true!]
5) Who You Are
Think a one sentence spiel on school, study, year. Not multiple sentences or multiple paragraphs about how great you are, what your GPA is or how many big band competitions you won back in Wyoming.
Just one sentence.
This is an intro email after all. The banker doesn’t even know you exist yet, so don’t try and feed them your entire life story or try to impress them too much!
Side note: notice how we only got to talking about who you actually are this far into the email?
Well, that’s because you don’t matter to Larry nearly as much as the above info. ie in his head the first questions he’s asking himself when he opens your email is how do you know me and why are you contacting me.
Also, this order abides by the #1 rule of great copywriting, which is…all you want the first sentence to do is make Larry want to read the second sentence, and all you want the second sentence to do is…etc.
6) Call To Action
This is the ‘ask’. And since this is your intro email and your first contact ever, the ask is simply to “ask some questions about their bank and IB in general”.
You then want to add how you would like to receive this advice.
Our strong strong recommendation is to make this a phone call if you are interstate or very short coffee meeting ask if you live nearby. Why?
Because it is obviously going to build much more rapport – one meeting builds the kind of rapport it would take 10 emails to. Also, answering questions via email is simply more work for a banker that they do not want to do.
But the secret is to say exactly how long the meeting would take – eg 10 minute phone call – so the banker is not fearing some never ending meeting.
That said, many students will do this, but then completely not honor it when they do in fact get some air time with the banker!!
Also, you should give time options for the banker, which we’ll talk more about below.
One more key point to make here…you should bold the CTA so it is super easy for the banker to spot.
7) I Understand If You Can’t, aka An ‘Easy Out’
This is something the team has come to appreciate so much, as it respects the banker’s time. Yet fewer than 0.01% of students will ever end their emails with it.
Now that you know about it, you can use it to increase your reply rate dramatically, because students that come off this respectful are the kinds bankers actually want to help out.
You see, in a sea of aggressive, sleep deprived and Red Bull fuelled kids demanding so much time from bankers – almost as a birthright – respectful and empathetic kids who give bankers an excuse not to respond, will stand out by a mile and get the respect back that they deserve, ie more replies!
P.S. make sure you clearly write “P.S.” because no other part of your email will get more attention than the part starting with P.S. I mean you read this right…it works!
8) And The Wrap Up
Many thanks, and then your first name.
Followed by your email signature. For this, simply put your full name, number and email here. This way you can use your first name immediately above and give the email a considerably more personal touch.
By following this approach you will end up with a 4 sentence email where each sentence is on a new line.
And without doubt you will have the ultimate introduction message, and one that is extremely smart phone-friendly too.
Subject Line = Chuck Chuckford recommendation + 2 quick questions
Dear Mr Larryson,
Chuck Chuckford recommended I send you an email, because you would be the best person to answer 2 quick questions about Goldman Sachs’s TMT group.
As a quick introduction, my name is Jack Jackson and I’m a second year Bachelor of Arts in Accounting (Minor in Mathematics) student at Michigan State, looking to learn more about the TMT group after completing internships for both a finance company and tech startup over the last 2 summers.
I’ve scoured the GS website and even spoken with several analysts including Chuck himself, but I would love to hear your answers to;
1.What type of work experience would best prepare someone applying for the TMT internship program?
2.What do you find is the most interesting aspect of working in the TMT group?
Would you be free at 4pm on Thursday, 22 Nov, or Friday, 23 Nov, to have a 10 minute phone call?
P.S. Chuck passed on your direct number so I could call you, but I thought it would be best to email first and also understand if you prefer to stick with email.
Jack Jackson – (517) 974 0770 – firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY IT WORKS
For every 100 emails bankers receive, they’ll probably receive 5, maybe max 10, that are anywhere near as persuasive as this.
So use this email script! [Of course, don’t forget to tailor it to your own situation].
In this example we have a mutual contact, which leads both the subject line and opening paragraph. This is so effective at putting Larry’s guard down and building the trust.
Better yet, in the script above we’ve combined the 2 paragraphs of who/how you got their contact info and why you’re contacting them. That is true efficient writing.
Also, the reason for contacting is very specific and tailored to Larry.
ie it is not to find out whether investment banking is interesting or some other general hogwash, instead it is to specifically ask 2 questions about Larry’s own group!
The short ‘my story’ sentence works really well.
Although it is a little long, it is worth it, because it tells the student’s back story, but also cheekily adds in why the student is asking the questions and how passionate and experienced they are.
You’ll also notice that in a bid to be as short as possible the full name of MSU is cut from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business to just Michigan State. Everyone will know what you’re talking about and by cutting it you allow the sentence to flow.
Next the 2 questions are listed out very clearly as dot points.
These are great examples of the questions you want to ask as well at this early stage, since they are very simple and won’t take a lot of mental power for a banker to answer.
Best of all, they are not TOO simple.
ie if you ask 2 simple yes/no questions there would be no reason for a phone call or no opportunity to form a relationship. Whereas these easy, but slightly open ended questions, will work perfect for striking up a short initial conversation.
Also pay specific attention to the “I’ve scoured…” line preceding the questions.
This shows the student has taken time to try and answer the questions themselves, because they respect Larry’s time. The point should be clear that if you waste bankers time by asking questions a simple Google search could answer you’ll get put on the blacklist in no time.
The 2 phone call times are great too…
…and you’ll also notice it has been bolded so Larry can’t miss it. Although it might seem a bit in your face at first glance, it cuts to the chase and helps LL speed read the shit out of this email and find the CTA fast.
And the icing on this linguistic cake is of course the P.S., which makes Larry feel super at ease and the student comes off as a very chilled, understanding and an easy going person…someone Larry would actually want to help and possibly even enjoy a coffee with sometime.
If you look carefully, you’ll also notice the easy out, is not a 100% out. Instead it is a bit more forceful.
ie the student isn’t giving Larry a choice on whether to reply or not, but rather how to reply.
This is more aggressive than the example we talked about above. But it is acceptable because of the background story as to how the student got Larry’s info from Chuck in the first place.
And one final note, do like this student did and use your university email, not your freaking personal gmail!