Everyone is busy these days, and time is precious. Emails can arrive in their dozens every day and when you’re eager to create a meeting – whether it’s with someone within your company, a contact from a momentary introduction at a conference, or somebody you haven’t even met before – the initial email you send to them is very important. The trouble is that if you follow the same format as others, your email may go unanswered and the meeting will never materialize. If you want more chances of successfully getting a meeting, follow these suggestions.

Be Specific

When you’re trying to ask someone for their time, the worst thing you can possibly do is leave something really open ended, especially when it is a meeting request. Asking someone if they’d like to meet ‘at some point’ or ‘some time’ just won’t work; in theory this could mean a meeting in ten years’ time. When an individual is busy, someone requesting their time without being specific isn’t useful to their calendar; they can’t tell you if they’re free ‘some time’. How to get around this? Tell them how much time you’re after, or what dates you’re in their area. Only in town on the 20th and think the discussion will only need half an hour? Tell them this and divulge the topic of discussion; they’ll be much more likely to get back to you. If you don’t know the person very well, suggest an initial meeting via Skype or the phone, and again be specific with time.

Offer Value

Every meeting for anything should offer value of some description. If it doesn’t, the meeting is a waste of time. Therefore when approaching about a meeting, you need to ensure you’re going to offer some value. How can you help them and why should they offer you their time? If the recipient knows that they’re going to get something out of it that may benefit them or their company, the chances increase that they will get back to you. Simply asking for a meeting, isn’t going to work. If the meeting itself isn’t going to be about something they want directly (perhaps you’re looking for a mentor in an area of business you admire), offer them something within the email that could be of interest to them outside of the main subject area. Perhaps you’re skilled in social media and have noticed that their social media is a little stagnant. Offer your skills, and you can potentially add value to an area they need help with while they help you.

Find Common Interests & Connections

Before approaching anyone, ensure you have done your research on them and know that they’re suitable for what you’re looking for help with. Making a blunder either pre-meeting or during a meeting will make it obvious that you haven’t done any reading. Research is also great for finding a common interest – do they like tennis? Soccer? Support the same charity as you? Having mutual interests is something useful to allow you to stand above the other meeting requests that they might receive regularly. Having mutual connections is useful too, but make sure the connection is okay with you using them as a networking tool. If they are, definitely use it to your advantage but don’t make it the main focus of your approach; you don’t want to make it seem that your time is valuable because of the connection. Use it at the beginning of the email as part of your introduction and casually slip in that ‘Robert Smith thought it’d be great if I contact you…‘ – it could be good for opening up doors.

Watch The Length

One of the quickest ways for your request to be ignored is to write a very long email. Most people will get dozens of emails daily and they don’t have time to read a short story, as interesting as it might be. Give them the brief details and use formatting where needed to make it stand out and illustrate key words. This will make them more likely to read your email at some point during their busy week and if it is shorter, they will be able to see the crucial points of it much faster and decide whether they want to act on your email or not.