Outreaching Basics: How To Get Responses From Busy People Without Failing

Email is one of the most effective methods of communication today. Even with all the impersonal tweets and other social networking options, people still prefer email as their main way of interacting with someone, especially on a business level. Many firms also provide this service as outsourcing and commonly known as “Guest Blogging service”. This would be great for the company to reduce its cost.

Well-written outreach emails have a personality of their own. Experts can tell them apart from the subject line. The problem with most people is that they don’t understand the requirement of a basic outreach email, even a cold calling one.

On one hand, you need the guidance of an industry expert, but on the other hand, you are also sending them emails with nothing good to offer. There are some rules of approaching these people for a favor. This post contains some tips and tricks which you can apply on your outreach emails to receive better responses.

You have to be creative and understand the value of the relationship you want to build with the influencers in your niche. It can take weeks or even months, but with perseverance and optimism, you will achieve your goals.

Value their time:

You can’t imagine the day of an influencer from your side of the table. These people have scheduled days and nights and most of them travel often. With an inbox imploding with hundreds of emails every day, they can’t manage to pay attention to every single outreach email sent to their mailbox. But don’t think that your message was worthless. Time is a valuable commodity to these people and they want to spend it sensibly. Sometimes, even ten minutes of their advice is worth a few thousand dollars.

When you are at the bottom, your time isn’t that difficult to manage. The dollar view perspective of your time is hard to imagine, since you are just moving things around. You are on your way to put everything into perspective so that one day all of these hours pay back and make your time more valuable.

It’s completely opposite for an influencer. Some CEOs and experts charge thousands of dollars to provide their valuable advice, in person and through sessions. Appreciate the busy person’s career and value their time. It will change the way you think about these people. When you realize that, even a minute of their advice or a few lines from them will mean a lot to you.

Choose to approach these people with this mindset, and you will start moving in the right direction. One day, all this hard work and consideration will pay off.

Don’t ask for too much work:

You are approaching an industry influencer, don’t think that they are going to do a lot of work for you in the first interaction.

Have something to offer:

Thinking that you don’t really have much value to offer in your work might be one of the biggest mistakes you make in your outreach emails. If you don’t have faith in yourself, what do you expect from someone on an expert level? Understand what you can actually give to that person, what value do you have to offer? Do you possess a skill that the other party does not have? Can you help them solve an issue they’ve been talking a lot about on their blogposts? How do you provide value to them through your work?

If you have an idea which can help the other person, share it. Moreover, if you have a product or service you want the influencer to see, provide them a sample in the most convincing manner. Most of the people you interact with don’t need money or gifts.

It’s your skill or product which can truly make a difference. Let’s take the example of a Pakistani shoe brand called Markhor. They built an amazing product using 1,800 year old craftsmanship techniques and combined it with equally amazing marketing skills. The result? Famous blogger and guru Seth Godin wrote about them.

“Consider this new campaign for really comfortable handmade shoes from Lahore. Lahore, as in Pakistan. Handmade leather shoes are a click away, regardless of where they were made, but you might choose these. If you’re in the idea business, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It matters if we care about the change you’re making.”

Markhor got tons of traffic to their Kickstarter campaign and collected over $107,000 from all over the world. In order to achieve that nod of approval from the greats, you have to provide value in the first place.

Ask genuine questions:

When you go up to someone for advice in real life, you don’t waste time in asking silly questions or chat about the weather. Same is the case with email. If you’re asking general questions in your email, it gives the impression that you are just not worth it.

If you were worth a busy person’s time, you’d have backed up your email with genuine questions. So, instead of asking ‘how do we fix our SEO’, you should be saying ‘we have tried xyz techniques on our posts, but the conversion rate keeps trickling down. I have read the following tips to change that, can you recommend which one is the best?’

Another thing about general questions is that they can be easily answered by running a search on Google or Quora. If you want to ask an influencer or expert about something, dig deeper into the subject and make it look like you did your homework. Come up with questions which are fun to answer for the expert as well.

Let’s take another example of Seth Godin. Folks at goodtrade realized that Godin has never mentioned the topic of social enterprise in his posts before. They sent him an email with a snapshot of Google search result, showing zero results for the topic on his website. Amazingly, Godin replied!

An hour later, Seth shot me a note back and did better than a one line answer. He agreed to make Social Entrepreneurship the theme of his daily blog post today. His thoughts, as always, provide a different way of looking at things that we think every entrepreneur should consider.

Here’s the post he wrote as a reply.

Keep it short:

Why are you writing a 1000 word essay to someone you haven’t even impressed yet? It’s not advised to write long and complicated outreach emails. People who are experts and have their inbox buzzing with hundreds of emails everyday also have a job to do. They don’t have the time to read your essay. At the end of the day, when a busy person sits down in front of his computer screen and opens an email with a load of text in it, do you think they will even read it?

Keep your email short and concise. You just have to ask permission from them regarding something, don’t make it a struggle for them. If you are emailing them cold, keep it short, sweet and to-the-point.

Proofread your email:

The worst thing you can do to an outreach email is to write it ‘liek tis’. If you have made this error before, you know the pain. Proofread your email multiple times to make it perfect for sending out. There are no excuses for poor grammar and terrible sentences in an outreach email.

One might be forgiven, but more than one errors can land your email in the trash bin. It’s a very simple thing which everyone should keep in mind when writing something important. Especially if you are asking an influencer to help your copywriting efforts or you are suggesting your service as one, it’s a deal breaker.

On the other hand, every email service has a built-in grammar checker. All you have to do is to use it.


Like I mentioned before, busy people get hundreds of emails in their inboxes every day. There are strong chances of your email getting lost by human error. Although it might seem annoying to some people, sending a follow up email is often a good step. All you have to do is to send a polite reminder that you dropped an email earlier and if the person can consider it. You should also add that you won’t email again after this reminder.

It’s a good decision because we are all human. Maybe the person saw your email but forgot to reply, maybe they will look at your email now. Things are never a hundred per cent. One single reminder is not wrong at all. You have nothing to lose here.

Learn to accept ‘no’:

In the unfortunate circumstances of hearing a ‘no’, many people react in an offensive way. You have to accept this word coming from many parties. Many successful entrepreneurs and leaders heard this word from people of authority, but chose to persevere anyway. Consider the fact that you are asking for a favor from this really busy person and aren’t providing a lot in return. Your basic expectation should linger around a no.

The people you are writing to, are not bad people. They may have something really important coming up, or they may be going through a hard phase in life. Whatever the reason, they are at least being honest with you about it. When you expect to connect with mentors, expect a lot of no’s, even out of humbleness.

Refusal doesn’t mean you can’t try again:

Don’t think that a no means never. If a person is politely (or impolitely) turning you down, you can just move on with your life. Life is full of opportunities which can come to you through many channels. Try another door.

If you got a no from someone you really wanted to work with, then you can approach them later. Maybe your email will come at a perfect time and the other party will be ready to mentor you. Don’t take these refusals negatively and don’t burn the bridges on this one time of hearing a no.

The three B’s of emailing busy people:

Experts have devised the 3-B plan to email busy people. It is recommended to double-check your emails to make sure they follow these guidelines and get some fantastic responses to your emails. Here is how it goes:


Busy people value brevity above anything else. Imagine your inbox with up to 50-100 emails per day, combined with a busy schedule which gives you little time to go over all of those emails. It’s apparent that busy people don’t have enough time to go through every single email.

To get your outreach email seen by these influencers, make sure it is short and on point. There is no set limit on the length of an email, because it depends on the topic. Make sure you are editing your emails after writing them and keeping them concise. Busy people can glance at emails and tell them apart, that’s why you need to keep it clear.


Being blunt means you are not beating around the bush. Like I mentioned before, a busy person does not have the time to go through the email and decipher its meaning. You have to do all of this work on their behalf. Get to the point in simple words and give the impression that you are also not going to tell long stories.

Write the incentive, your personal message and get done with it. It’ll be great if you can give them a number in the title, like ‘4 quick questions’ so they know what they are going to expect from the email right from the subject line.


You won’t imagine the simplicity of this fact – be basic in your emails to be effective. Don’t turn your email into a tabloid full of articles, quotes and images. Keep it simple and clutter free. Emails with a dozen attachments in them are a big NO for the person reading them. That’s as clear as it can get – be simple.


With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility. An avid thinker, digital marketing blogger and now CEO of SEtalks.com. Find me on Twitter @danizehra


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