How To Email Busy People AND Get a Response

emailDo people still use their phones?

Everyone seems to have a smartphone of some sort; they’re on Facebook or Instagram all day. You can’t get a word in edgewise when they’re Snapchatting (yes, that’s a word now).

But, does anyone actually use their phone to talk to another human being?

Silly question, I know.

As the number of people taking and making phone calls continues to dwindle, email has become the preferred method of communication for many business men and women. That being the case, the real challenge is actually getting someone to open and read your email.

That’s where this little list comes in. Here are 5 ways to send an email that will be seen, opened and responded to.


Nail The Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing people see in their inbox. It’s like a first impression, and we all know how important those are. Go for the attention grab by playing to curiosity or utility. In To Sell Is Human, author Dan Pink suggests that we can drop the playful, entertaining subject lines. Instead, Pink highlights a study that shows people are more likely to read emails when they are intrigued (curious) or useful (utility).


Be Relatable

Find a common thread, a link that connects you to the email recipient. Did you go to the same university or hail from the same city? Maybe it’s not that obvious. The more you dig in, the more unique the connection, the more likely they will be to respond.  Remember, it’s important that you’re a storyteller when you sell.


Make Them Feel Important

Who doesn’t like a little boost of confidence? Kick off your email by telling the recipient why you’ve selected to email them and why they are the right person – the only person – you need to speak with. Then, show them that you have done your homework. Reference specific papers, articles, books or even Tweets this person has sent. Show them that you’ve tried to help yourself, but you need them to top everything off.


Create a Dialogue

The first email does not contain the ask. You’re not leading off with what you want. This is your chance to get their attention and do a little relationship building. Tim Ferris, a bestselling author and entrepreneur, advices that we

send a two- to three-paragraph e-mail which explains that you are familiar with their work, and ask one simple-to-answer but thought-provoking question in that e-mail related to their work or life philosophies. The goal is to start a dialogue so they take the time to answer future e-mails—not to ask for help. That can only come after at least three or four genuine e-mail exchanges.

Exactly! So far we’ve done that.

Now, all that’s left to do is wrap up the message.


Close Strong

It’s very important to be grateful and express appreciation for someone making the time to read and respond to your message. Don’t forget to say thank you, but you can’t leave it there. You’re call to action is not an asking for help (remember, create dialogue) it’s asking for a specific time to meet, follow up, or get on the phone. You can propose specific times and dates. Or, you can leave it open-ended and allow the respondent to pick a time that fits their schedule. But, no matter what, don’t end the email without asking expressing your desire to meet, talk or exchange messages again.

What’s your best time for emailing busy people? Do they respond? Tell us your email secrets in the comments below!

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.


  1. I’ve found that flattery, and being short and to the point, both work very well!

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