Cold Reach-Outs

How do you reach out and connect with people who have no idea who you are?

Firstly, keep in mind: the worst that can happen is that you are ignored or your request is rejected. That’s it.

Your message, whether by phone, email or in person, should:

  • be brief and to the point
  • flatter them a little – reference an article they wrote, a recent appointment, a customer acquisition – or simply how clever they must be to be in that position (though a little more subtly than that)
  • anything that you might be able to offer them – insights based on experience
  • suggest an action – meet-up (“could I buy you a coffee, lunch”) – with a time-limit – “could you spare 10 minutes for a coffee”
  • how much it would mean to you (make them feel good about themselves for helping someone)
  • don’t be needy – “If right now isn’t convenient, I’ll understand”
  • respect their time and make it easy to say “Yes” – “I can make any morning next week” or “May I call you next Friday morning at 11.15? If that’s not convenient, I am available any morning between 07.30 and 09.00”. This gives the opportunity to confirm or suggest an alternative time without any to-ing and fro-ing.

Make sure that you block any suggested meeting times in your calendar.


After the initial contact, follow-up with 2-3 days. If by email, a simple one-liner will suffice – 

“I am following up my earlier email message (below). It would be great if you have time to meet up.


By placing your earlier email (below) your follow-up message, you save them the effort of looking up the earlier email.

“What do you want?”

Before committing their time, it’s reasonable for a person to want to know a little more about you and why you would like to meet them. 

The Meeting

Prepare! It may only be a 10-minute coffee but you need to sell the idea why they should connect with you. Research them, develop a set of questions (more on this later), share something that may be of interest to them. If you have a print-out even better – something to remember you by. Seek out ways in which you may be able to help them. 

In The Education of Millionaires, author Michael Ellsberg advocates asking successful people these two questions:

  1. What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/business?
  2. What’s challenging for you in your life/business right now?

After the Meeting

Make contact again quickly (“thank you, I learned a lot. Here’s a link to that article I mentioned.”)

Stay in touch using the Edge systematic approach to networking.


And here’s some advice from Ramit Sethi on how to talk to successful people:


Still not getting the results you want from your cold reach-outs, perhaps this article will help.