If you're job-searching or networking, 9 times out of 10 your primary form of communication is e-mail.
Alexis Grant at Mashable.com offers these four steps to writing networking or job-searching messages that people will read and, more importantly, remember.
1. Be succinct
Don't waste your subject's time, it's valuable, and writing a concise message represents your respect for that fact.
"We’re all busy, and being brief shows you’re in touch with reality and want to make life easier for the person you’re writing to" Grant notes. "Not only are long e-mails annoying, they’re also proof that you’re not a good communicator — and employers want people who can share their ideas succinctly.
2. State what you want
If you want something from your subject, tell them - and make your request specific. Says Grant: "If the person on the receiving end of your email doesn’t know what you want, there’s no way they’ll be able to give it to you — and that means your effort has gone to waste."
3. Do your research
Generally-addressed e-mails are destined for the Delete button. Knowing the contact's name is a no-brainer. If you can't be bothered to find out whom you're e-mailing, why reach out in the first place?
4. Use flattery
"Flattery" can have a negative connotation, but it's a very effective tool when it is sincere. If you admire a person's work, say so - and be specific (see Tip #3). If you want to work for a company, tell them exactly why. Avoiding generalities and cliches will make you stand out and get noticed.
"Not only does true flattery make the other person feel good (and realize that you’ve done your homework), it also shows you’re an enthusiastic, engaged individual who goes after what you want," Grant writes.