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How to get responses to your cold messages.
New York Tech week just ended, featuring an incredible lineup of events across the city. Big kudos to Katia and the a16z team for leading.
Today’s piece is about cold outreach - a tool I’ve used throughout my career to generate asymmetric outcomes. Whether you are a founder, investor, or operator, you will need to send cold messages at some point. And if you’re not, you should be.
Also, I’m in Dallas (Tony Robbins), San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, and Toronto the next few weeks. Please send any recs over!
Let me know how this piece hits. Best of luck!
When it comes to cold outreach, most people are doing two things wrong:
They’re not doing it at all
They’re not using the correct formula
Doing cold outreach has a disproportionate amount of positive upside relative to the amount of effort it takes.
It takes ~3 minutes to craft an email that could quite literally alter the entire trajectory of your life.
Seems like a good deal, right?
In the last few years, I’ve sent thousands of cold emails, messages, and DMs. It’s resulted in:
Receiving job offers at the world’s most prestigious companies (Facebook, Google)
Raising six figures in sponsorship dollars in less than a week (as a nobody!)
Meeting some of the most impactful and special people in my life
And so much more…
The Magic Formula
Over time, through sending quite literally thousands of cold messages, I’ve found a formula that works well for me (and many of my friends too).
It’s based off copywriting principles that have lasted hundreds of years.
And it’s also really simple. Here it is:
Make It Relevant
Kick off the message with something that hooks the reader in. Why should they keep reading?
Make it relevant and include details that you believe are relevant to them, their goals, and their background.
Who are you? (Brag about yourself here).
Why makes you stand out? Why are you reaching out?
What have you accomplished?
Make it clear: what tangible value would the reader receive from responding to you?
Gratitude & Praise
Give an authentic thank you.
It doesn’t hurt to include genuine, specific praise on what the reader has accomplished. Do your research.
Finally, share a specific ask.
Do not reach out to “connect” or to “expand your network”. Those phrases mean nothing.
An ask for a job referral.
15 minutes of their time to talk about X.
An opportunity to angel invest in your startup.
The size of your ask should be proportional to the depth of your relationship with that person:
Low effort (you don’t know them at all) → an email response
Medium effort (you operate in a relevant space) → 15 min call
High effort (you have strong mutual connections) → 30 min call
Extremely high effort (you were introduced by a close friend or acquaintance → IRL meeting
Let’s evaluate this:
✅ Introduced themself
✅ Demonstrated value
✅ Gratitude & praise
✅ Clear ask
Send More Cold Messages
If I was going to give you one piece of career advice, it would be to send more cold messages.
Not just emails—but Linkedin DMs, Twitter DMs, Reddit DMs, etc.
It’s done wonders for my life and career, and resulted in some of the most important relationships in my life.
Try this experiment:
Identify 10 people who you find inspiring or intriguing.
Craft a personalized cold message to each of them.
Report back on the result. What did you learn?
📌 Andrew’s Picks
Fascinating internet things I’ve come across:
How to Make Stuff People Will Pay For — 6 simple principles to building successful products. When in doubt, create.
It’s 2002 and you’re in the future — A perspective on time. Especially if you’re an 80s or 90s kid.
WTF VC; What is going on, where the opportunities are, and what to avoid — Hot takes on the state of venture and startups in 2023 by Sam Lessin.
Bonus: Alex & Books.
When I need a new read, he’s the first person I look to. If you’re a reader (or want to build the habit, you’ll love his work too. Check it out!
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