Rhubarb at SkillsYouNeed

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How to Get a Meeting With Anyone

See also: Employability Skills

Getting a meeting with someone who could change your life is easier than you think.

The outcome of that meeting could be your dream job or a new customer.  The meeting could also turn into a dead end or a ‘no’ to your offer. 

Either way, life is too short to spend your time wondering ‘what if’ when you could get to the outcome very quickly.

Here’s how to do it.

Prospect Research

Think about the person you are going to reach out to and write down the answers to the following questions: 

  • What is their name? Jim Smith
  • Where do they work? Space Travel Inc.
  • What do they do at work? Chairman & CEO
  • How do they spend their days?  Ie – In meetings all day or flying around the
    world, or laying on a beach. 
  • What do they do in their free time? Ski in Steamboat
  • Do you share any personal or professional connections in common?  Who?
  • Are there any uncommon similarities you share? Ie – You went to the same university, interested in underwater basket weaving, or have children around the same age.

Pro Tip:

Check your prospect’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, and public Facebook profiles for shared backgrounds, hobbies, likes, dislikes. 

Follow, Like, Favorite, Comment before you send your email.

  • What value do you have to offer them?  An Advisory Board Position
  • Why should they care? They love the space you are working in and your opportunity could make them money and further solidify their authority.
  • What is the ideal outcome of the meeting?  A first phone call.

Making First Contact (Why Email Wins)

If your target contact is like most influential people, they are very busy. You need to contact them through the channel that creates the least amount of friction: email.

With all the hype around social media, it’s hard to make your tweet stand out in 140 characters. A friend request on Facebook to someone in authority is creepy and bound to get declined.  A phone call, assuming you can get their number, could be intrusive.

Email, by far, is the preferred communication medium for busy people.

Understanding how to properly email busy people is a skill that can set you apart from the pack.  Before you start writing, you need to know that an email creates a task for someone to complete.  People are skimming the emails in the hopes of completing the task.

Here are the 6 questions your recipient will ask themselves when your email lands in their inbox:

  1. Who is this person?
  2. Should I open this? (don’t send spam)
  3. Should I read this?
  4. What do they want?
  5. How long will this take?
  6. Should I reply to this?

Knowing how to write compelling cold emails might seem like a no-brainer or even an unnecessary skill to have.  It’s not. 

Look at your own inbox.  How many meeting requests or opportunities presented to you did you delete before even hearing out the requestors pitch?  Most of these emails are all about the sender and don’t do anything to communicate that they’ve done their research to personalize the offer to you.

Don’t be this person.

Deconstructing Your Email

The Subject Line

The subject line is the gateway to getting your email opened and replied to.

The goal of the subject line is to get your email opened.  Think about all the cold emails you received where the subject lines enticed you enough to open the email.  Better yet, for the next seven days, pay attention to the subject lines of all the unsolicited emails sent to you.  Make note of which subject lines were good or bad and borrow from the best. 

When you are ready to start writing, here’s a 2 minute subject line drill for your cold email.

Right: ‘Found you via (mutual connection’s name)’, ‘Great Post on (publication name)’,  ‘An idea to improve operations in Space’

Wrong: ‘can you help?’, ‘recent grad seeking engineering job’, ‘hello’,

The Opening

Avoid sounding like a robot or exuding desperation.  Skilled emailers know how to speak to the recipient in a tone that will get their emails read.

Avoid words in the greeting like ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Greetings’, ‘Mr./Mrs. Smith’. This is a rookie mistakes that will call attention to the fact that you are not a peer to the recipient which signals to them that you have nothing to offer in return and your leverage is lost.  Delete.

Right: ‘Jim/Jill-’, ‘Hi Jim/Jill-’

Wrong: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Greetings’, ‘Mr./Mrs. Smith’

Pro Tip:

Each sentence in your email should be purposely designed and written to get the recipient to read the next sentence.

The Connection Statement

The first sentence of your email is meant to separate yourself from the pack and demonstrate to the recipient that you have a valid reason for contacting them based on something you both hold in high regards. 

This is also referred to as an uncommon commonality. 

At the beginning of this article, you were asked to make note of things you have in common with the recipient. Use your best commonality here to make a personal connection with the recipient.  Don’t make the first sentence all about you. The reader doesn’t know enough yet whether they will care about what you have to say, or not, and this fatal mistake is a fast track to the delete button.

Right:  ‘Your article in the Times about space travel made the best argument I’ve seen on why solar flares should be used as an alternative form of energy.’

Wrong: ‘My name is Ryan and I am a recent grad from Harvard majoring in Applied Physics and looking for an entry level engineering role.’  Or…’My name is Ryan and I run sales for XYZ company, a leader in real time space delivery to innovating how we send things to people living on the Moon.’


The key to crafting the correct hook is to:

  1. Pique curiosity,
  2. Sincerely praise, or
  3. Instill non-threatening fear.

Your subject line got the email opened.  Your connection statement showed that you did your research and may have something to offer. 

The hook will keep them reading on the path to replying to your email.  Check out the examples below.

  1. Piquing Curiosity:  ‘You mentioned an expansion to Space on the last earnings call. Having lived on the moon for the last 6 years, there is one thing most companies miss when going to market.
  2. Sincere Praise:Your researched served as the basis for my thesis on track to complete my PhD in applied physics.
  3. Fear: ‘I’ve helped companies like (your competitor 1) and (your competitor 2) increase their conversion rate by 10%.

The hook is a transition that bridges your connection statement to the pitch.  Your email should be 3-5 sentences long and your concise communication demonstrates that you will not waste their time.

The Pitch

If you followed the all the steps we laid out, your target is still reading at this point. Make your case then move to the ‘Call To Action’ (CTA).

How will the recipient improve their life by taking action on your request for something?  What do you have to offer? 

Be concise. Give them a taste of what you bring to the table. Highly motivating pitches help the recipient visualize gaining money, power, or respect by engaging with you.

Right: ‘My company just closed a 7 figure deal with Solar Flares Inc. to build the next version of their combustion engine and our investors suggested we build an advisory board of the best space experts on the planet.’

Wrong: ‘I’d love to pick your brain on space exploration.’

The Call To Action

You’ve gotten them to read this far. Close strong, but don’t make your ask too complicated.

Your CTA should be an easy commitment for the recipient. Even if you want the recipient to join your advisory board, it’s too early to ask since the decision process they would go through doesn’t allow for a quick reply to your ask. 

Craft your CTA to enable an easy ‘yes’ and facilitate the conversation to move from email to a call or an in person meeting.

Right: ‘How does your calendar look in the next 2 weeks for a quick call to see if there is a fit?’

Wrong:  ‘So, are you interested in joining our board?’


The PS is a great spot in the email to create levity and make another personal connection with the recipient.

You could link the recipient to the thesis dissertation you mentioned earlier in the email.  You can also make the ‘PS’ more personal than your email allowed for by leveraging another uncommon commonality.

Right: ‘PS – go Cavs!’, ‘PS – here’s a link to the thesis I mentioned earlier’, ‘PS – Taking the family to Steamboat for the first time next week, any suggestions?’

Wrong: ‘PS – looking forward to your reply’


Keep it simple:

Title (if relevant)
Company (hyperlinked to your website or profile)
Phone Number

Your Email Should Look Like This:

Subject: Great Post on Space Travel (NY Times)

Hi Jim,

Your article in the Times last week about space travel made the best argument I’ve seen on why solar flares should be used as an alternative form of energy. 

Your research served as the basis for my thesis on track to complete my PhD in applied physics.

My company just closed a 7 figure deal with Solar Flares Inc. to build the next version of their combustion engine and our investors suggested we build an advisory board of the best space experts on the planet.

How does your calendar look in the next 2 weeks for a quick call to see if there is a fit?

PS – here’s a link to the thesis dissertation.


Jill Harris
CEO and Co-Founder

About the Author

Ryan O’Donnell is an avid cold emailer, growth hacker and Co-Founder of SellHack.com, a browser extension to find hidden email addresses & phone numbers.  His clients build prospect lists and send cold emails to generate new business opportunities.