What Is Cold Emailing, and Why Is It Important?

At the beginning of any job search, people will often tell you to “cold email” a potential employer since you never know where it will take you. Whenever I heard this phrase, I didn’t know what it entailed or where to even start. Lots of questions went through my mind: “Is it like sliding into someone’s DM’s? Isn’t that awkward and unprofessional?”

After job searching and gearing up for my professional life, I realized that cold-emailing is a valuable skill that helps you discover unexpected opportunities and paths in the job market. There is no correct way to cold email someone, but it is an essential skill used by people across various positions and industries. It may feel daunting at first, so I’ll break it down for you and give you some tips on how to effectively write a cold email. 

  1. 1. What is a cold email? 

    On a surface level, cold-emailing is essentially professionally sliding into someone’s DM’s. It’s a method to reach out to someone you aren’t familiar with in order to gain more insight about their professional role/industry/etc. as well as any similar interests.  

    For example, if you’re looking for an internship opportunity in marketing, sending a cold email to an employee who works for a brand you’ve been following might help you get on the company’s radar and could even land you an informational interview — a chance to learn more about a job from someone who’s already at the company. 

  2. 2. How do I find contacts to reach out to?

    The best way to find contact information is in the magical world of LinkedIn. Through this business and employment-oriented service, you can meet other students, professionals, educators, and entrepreneurs. The most important task to complete before you send a cold email is to do background research. People are more inclined to respond if they know you are interested in what they do and care enough to put in the effort to show your passion. 

    To continue with my example of seeking out a marketing internship, background research could entail spending some time researching the brands you’re interested in and using LinkedIn to browse through professionals affiliated with those companies. If their profiles don’t contain their email address, you can shoot them a message directly through LinkedIn. This might seem odd, but, trust me, it happens a lot more frequently than you think. 

  3. 3. What do I write in my cold email?

    You’ve done your research, and you’ve found someone to reach out to — half the work is done! But now, your palms are getting sweaty as you try to draft your cold email. Don’t worry – I’m going to lay out the three essential parts of an effective cold email: introduction, customization, and reciprocity.

    Introduction

    This one goes without saying, but it’s crucial to let the recipient know who you are! What’s your name? What school do you attend? What’s your interest in the person or company? Don’t tell your life story; two to three sentences will do the job.

    Customization 

    This is truly the focal point of your cold email – why are you reaching out to this person? What’s your affiliation with them? Do you have any mutual friends? Do you share similar interests? You might have found their interests through their LinkedIn, which isn't creepy because those are public profiles.  

    Be honest here. If you’re looking for a job or internship, say so! Writing to them saying you’re looking for an opportunity to join the company might seem transactional, but if you phrase it well, providing specifics on why you’re reaching out comes off as respectful and straightforward.

    Reciprocity 

    Make it known that you aren’t going to waste the recipient's time. They’ll want to connect with you if you give a good reason, and if you show that you really want to learn from them. People enjoy talking about themselves, and they are generally willing to help.

    However, remember to keep your message short and actionable. Make it easy for them to want to help you. Cold emails should be digestible, and it should only take a few moments for the other person to read and understand what you’re trying to say. 

    One last thing! Keep in mind that people are busy, so don’t get too discouraged if they don’t reply. However, many professionals love to help those who are looking to join their company or industry, so if you don’t hear from them, use your best judgment to decide when to follow up

Cold-emailing is essential, because you never know where it will take you — the recipient could give you really insightful advice, explain their job to help you decide if it’s the right path for you, or even connect you with someone else who might be able to land you more opportunities. This skill gets easier with practice and patience. 

I hope this helped you gain a better sense of the art of cold-emailing. Remember to keep it short and meaningful, and go get ‘em!