4 Simple Rules for the Best "First" Emails

By Janis Kupferer

Know how to make your move on email? There are simple rules that will help you to become a "first" email powerhouse.
 
This Feels Weird
I get a lot of email from the members of SocialJane.com. They ask technical questions, provide feedback, make suggestions, and of course, every now that then I get a complaint about some aspect of the site (please note – typically we are easily able to resolve the issue). But, the number one concern I hear about from the SocialJane.com membership is that while they really enjoy the opportunity to meet new friends via the website, they admit to feeling a bit odd writing that first introductory email to other members.

“What are you supposed to say?”
“How should I approach it?”
“This feels a bit like a dating site, and I feel weird and don’t know what to say.”

Honestly, I get this comment all the time, so if you too are having these same thoughts, just know that you aren’t alone.

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Side Note:
Here is the thing—sending an email to another woman over the internet does feel like your are on a dating site (at least that is how those of us who have used dating sites feel about it.) This is because the idea of using the internet to connect with and meet new platonic friends is new. And since “friendship networking” is most similar to romantic networking (ie. dating sites), we naturally compare the two. In fact, the two services are almost identical, at least from a technical perspective. Of course they differ significantly from dating sites in both their purpose and goal.

But do remember this, we also use the internet—regularly—to network with:
·      other mothers
·      potential employers
·      other women business professionals
·      new contractors
·      old friends

… the list is endless.

So go ahead and feel a bit weird, but then proudly call yourself a pioneer, and just do it already!
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Now, back to our subject which is “What to Say in an Initial Email.”  Since I read buckets full of emails as a means of administering the SocialJane.com website, I have a good idea of what works and what seems to be well-received when it comes to first emails. Below is my advise for what makes for a successful introductory email. Pull from it what feels right to you, and then, of course, pepper your messages with your own personality.

1. Remember Your Objective:
SocialJane.com is a women’s friendship site (and by-the-way, the first and largest in the US). As such, each and every member of the site has the exact same reason for being here¾to expand and enrich our social circles. With this in mind, please don’t hesitate or feel at all odd about reaching out to other members of the site. In fact, you should be proud of yourself for making the first step that could lead to a great new friendship.

And, the first step towards this goal of expanding your social network is to begin a conversation through the site’s email system. While ultimately your objective or hope is to add a new friend to your posse, I want to suggest that you separate your “ultimate” goal from the goal of this initial email. Your purpose for this first email should simply be “the start of a conversation.”

One of the problems I see with first emails is that the sender is a bit too eager in their approach. You’ve found the SocialJane.com service and are (understandably) thrilled to have a tool to connect with other women also seeking new friendships. However, this enthusiasm can sometimes be misconstrued and sometimes feel overly eager—and it needs to be said—even a bit needy. It has been my experience that the gals who stay focused on simply starting a conversation seem to have better result in that they are more inclined to receive a response to their contact.

To use that old phrase, don’t put the cart before the horse, please don’t expect that your first interaction with another member will result in an instant friendship. Friendships take time to develop, and develop through regular interaction. Your goal here should be to get the conversation going and see what you both have in common.


2. Keep it Light and Friendly:
Emails that also keep things on the lighter side also seems to be the most successful. Members who talk about the positive things happening in their lives, their interests, and their wishes for their social lives definitely garner a better response rate.

Of course, we all have difficulties that litter our lives from time-to-time, perhaps a friendship has faltered, a marriage ended, or a blip has occurred in a career path. Absolutely these are subjects we’d hope to discuss with our friends. But these types of situations or issues are probably best left to a live conversation, and not presented in your first email.

Providing details such as “my husband left me, and took all our friends with him” or “all the women in my life are such drama queens” (although extreme examples) may very well be true, but this information is fairly personal (and definitely tinged with anger) and therefore best to disclose to someone with whom you have an established relationship with—not to someone whom you are attempting to meet.

Staying positive and upbeat in your introductory email is a great way to present yourself and make a good impression. Hence, I strongly suggest that you keep your message friendly, and keep the tone light and upbeat.


3. Discuss Mutual Interests:
One of the most common reasons people become friends is through a shared interest of one sort or another. Whether that interest revolves around a belief (such as a political standing), a love of sports (like your child’s soccer club), or enjoyment of any other pursuit (such as playing tennis or drinking wine), it really doesn’t matter¾friendships only require that you have something in common which you both enjoy.

As you read through the profiles on SocialJane.com, inevitably you will find members with whom you share a common bond. Something in their profile catches your attention, makes you smile, or calls to a shared interest.

Highlighting this initial commonality makes for terrific content in an initial email, as it provides a foundation for your conversation and offers a bridge to future chats. I recommend that you focus on fairly vanilla or non-controversial topics, like where you live or a similar hobby. Focusing on a negative situation (like a recent divorce or job loss, for example) may offer an easy bond, but doesn’t provide long-term sustainability since situations change (you find a new romance or job). Focusing on the positive nature of your situation (“Now that I have a bit of extra time, I’d love to check out the resale boutiques in town.”) is the better approach.

When sending an introductory email, discuss your mutual interests, as these are the common grounds that establish and ultimately sustain a friendship.


4. Invite an Exchange:
Of all the emails sent via SocialJane.com (and there are thousands), the very best first emails always provide a plan of action and invite an exchange.

 “Your travel adventures sound hysterical. I love to cruise too, and would enjoy hearing more. Let’s chat.”

“I’m new to town and can use recommendations for good restaurants. Got any? I’d love to hear back from you.”

The best conversationalists are those who frequently ask questions as a means of engaging their chatting partners. This is a great approach when sending off your first email as well. Asking a few questions gives the recipient of your email a reason to get back in touch with you via a question or a direct statement. This absolutely gives an easy opening and flow to your discussion.

It is the easy “back and forth” that builds familiarity and helps each party determine if they’d like to pursue a friendship. SocialJane.com members should get comfortable with each other via email first, sending a few rounds to each other. These first few emails will help you decide if you’d like to meet in person (and likewise, a few emails may confirm the opposite). Again, I strongly suggest you spend time getting to know each other online first before suggesting a live meeting.

Email Examples:
Below are a couple of emails that absolutely fit the bill as good introductory emails, and should garner a positive response for you. Of course use these examples as a guide for your own messages, but definitely tweak them to make your note personal.

Hi StaceyinWisconsin:

I just joined SocialJane.com and was thrilled to read your profile. I too am a fan of yoga and try to go to classes three times per week. I am new to the area and could really use some suggestions for good studios – can you provide a few?

Would love to hear back from you and hope to chat soon.

Namaste,
Jane


Hi SocialJody:

How funny: we both speak Italian and have chocolate labs! Didn’t really know what to expect when I signed-up on SocialJane.com, but was pleasantly surprised to find your profile.

In addition to cooking for my family (I’m a wife and a mother of 3), I also like hiking with my dog and catching the latest foreign film.

What brings you to SocialJane.com, and have you lived in the area long?

Ciao!
Karen



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