A Guide to Cold Emailing
A cold email is an unsolicited message inviting someone to connect with you. It can be an effective way to meet new people, develop a mentor, pitch a practicum idea, or schedule an informational interview. Before you start, you should see if anyone you know has a connection within the organization. You are more likely to get a response if you are introduced by a mutual contact. Below are steps to help you craft your email.
Step 1: Identify who you want to connect with
If you don’t have someone who can introduce you, you should identify a person to contact. That will depend on what you are seeking.
If your focus is...
- To make a connection at this organization because you’re interested in the work they do and you want to learn more, find someone in a position that you could envision yourself in.
- To find a practicum, you could identify a person who is managing a project that you could see yourself working on.
Step 2: Craft your email
Your subject line should be attention grabbing. You could take the straightforward approach- "Are you available for an informational interview?" If you have something in common with your contact, you could mentioned that. An example could be: "A fellow UC Davis Aggie!" Another option could be to mention a project they are working on that inspires you- "Inspired by your work on ___".
After you figure out your subject line, here are some tips for crafting the rest of your email:
- Your greeting should be formal. Include their professional title if they have one.
- Introduce yourself and give a short bio (also known as an elevator pitch).
- You should include your name, your affiliation with UC Davis, brief professional background and what you are aspiring to do/ why you are reaching out.
- Show the value in connecting with you. Many professionals are happy to mentor students or create connections for future hiring pipelines.
- This could be demonstrated by your experience and relevant interests to the work the professional is doing.
- Be clear in what you’re asking (if anything).
- Do you want to schedule a time for an informational interview?
- Are you looking for a practicum opportunity?
- Are you connecting to establish a potential mentorship?
- If you want to schedule a meeting, be sure to include options of days/times you are available for ease of scheduling.
- Thank them and close the email out.
Step 3: Proofread
This email is a first impression! Make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors, and the contact and/or organization's name is spelled correctly. Read the email out loud and make sure it flows and sounds conversational. Make sure your email is concise and brief. If it takes longer than a few minutes to read, the person is likely going to ignore it.
Example email for an informational interview:
Dear Dr. X,
My name is [your name], I am a masters student in the Environmental Policy and Management program at University of California, Davis. I have a background in [list any previous relevant professional experience] and I am interested in [name what your specialization or interests are that are relevant to the contact/organization]. I find your organization’s work in [name a project] inspiring. I would love to learn more about your organization and what you do in your role. Would you be available [give a few date and time options] to speak with me? I can either meet in person or via Zoom.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Contact information [email and phone number]
Example email to pitch a practicum idea can be found here.
- Be intentional with who you email and give them some time to respond.
- It is appropriate to follow up if you don’t hear back, but you should wait at least 10-14 days before doing so.
- Do not spam email multiple people at an organization. It sends a message that you are impatient if you start to email others in the same office before you hear back from the first person you contacted.
- Be creative! You can also reach out to specific people via LinkedIn messaging.
- Read our Guide for Networking