Cold email is one of the best ways to open doors in your life and career. Because of that, email is the perfect channel to build your network.

Most busy people check their inbox at regular intervals throughout the day, if not constantly.

A well-targeted, personalized cold email can start a conversation with anyone from CEOs you’re inviting on your podcast, to potential clients you want to set up a meeting with.

But if you’ve ever tried cold emailing people before, you know that it’s hard. If you send out 100 generic emails with the same copy-pasted template, you’ll be lucky to get a single reply.

But, if you start slow and ensure every cold email you send is unique and personalized, you can see incredible results.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to use cold email to network with anyone around the world, right from your inbox. You’ll be able to start conversations with prospective customers, people you want to invite on your podcast, investors, or set up meetings at conferences and events.

I’ll cover the basics, show you best practices, and give you templates you can start putting to the test.

Let’s dive in.

The Fundamentals

There’s no trick to writing great cold emails. You’ll need to spend time researching your prospects, have clear goals, and be thoughtful about how you use the channel. If you skip any of those parts the recipient can tell.

However, there are some fundamentals to keep in mind that apply to every email you send:

  1. Be brief and avoid wasting your recipient’s time

  2. Have real value for the reader

  3. Make the reason for your email clear

  4. Use social proof to boost your credibility

If you do those three things, you’ll have no trouble hitting the targets you set for yourself.

Your Networking Email Subject Line

The subject line is the first element of your email that your recipient will see.

It needs to be clear, simple to understand and frame your email for the recipient so they know what to expect.

When writing your subject line, it’s usually best to go with something short.

For example:

  • Coffee at [conference] next Thursday?

  • Podcast invitation (30k subscribers)

  • Question about [topic]

You can also experiment with personalized subject lines, mentioning a specific event they’ll be familiar with, such as:

  • Your blog post on [topic] - question about your conclusions

  • Just watched your talk on [topic] at [conference]

  • Saw {{}}’s is hiring for a sales role - still open?

A good framework to think of your subject line is that it’s like a contract with your recipient. By opening your email, they can expect you to mention something related to your subject line.

While a clickbait subject line might get you more open, it’ll guarantee that your recipient loses trust in you as someone that’s authentic and cares about their time.

Ways to Instantly Build Rapport

If you met someone at a conference, you’d chat and get to know them. After all, you’ve just met.

In your networking emails, you need to do the same thing. However, you can’t write an email that’s three paragraphs long, talking about your life story. Unless you get very lucky, your recipient won’t have the time or energy to read or reply to it.

Instead, I’d recommend creating a custom opening line in your email that’s designed to show the recipient you’ve done your research.

You’ll need to write a unique opening line for every recipient. When you’re planning your outreach, I’d recommend creating a spreadsheet containing all of your recipients that looks like this:

When you go to send your emails, you’ll already have the custom opening line ready.

Here are a few ways to approach the opening line:

1. Write a Genuine Compliment

You’ll research every person you reach out to. During that process, you should be discovering what content (podcasts, videos, articles) they’ve created, talks they’ve given at events, or noteworthy past experiences on their LinkedIn.

Start with a genuine compliment and you’ll prove that you’ve spent time researching your recipient. They’ll instantly trust you more and take the rest of your email more seriously. It’ll be a refreshing change from the generic outreach emails everyone else is sending them.

2. Highlight a Commonality

If you have something in common with someone, highlight it. For example, do you live in the same city? Did you work at the same company in the past? Maybe you’ve both had the same guest on your podcast, or you both run an agency.

Whatever it is, leading with a commonality is a great way to break the ice. The person you’re emailing will already feel like they know you and that you’re in the same community, either personal or professional, as they are.

3. Get Straight To The Point

If you don’t have anything in common or are emailing someone who doesn’t create much public-facing content, don’t try and shoehorn a compliment if it’s irrelevant.

Instead, cut straight to the most enticing parts of your email.

For example, your opening line could be an introduction with social proof: 

“I run a community of 100+ agency owners where we discuss best practices, tactics, and help solve problems that our members face”. 

If the person you’re emailing is an agency owner, you’ve already broken the ice and shown why your email is worth reading.

Whenever you send a networking email, always prove to the recipient that you’ve done your research and this is a unique email that could only be sent to them. 

4. Ask a Mutual Friend to Connect You

Now, this isn’t exactly a tactic you can use in your own emails. But, if you notice you have a mutual friend with someone you’re looking to connect with, asking for a warm introduction is often the best way to start a conversation.

It’s always worth checking your LinkedIn or asking in communities you’re a member of before reaching out to someone.

If the purpose of your email is truly to network and start a conversation, rather than simply pitch your product/service, most people will be happy to connect with you.

A word of warning: if you ask a friend to connect you with someone to chat about a particular topic and you end up pitching them, you won’t get many introductions in the future.

4 Networking Email Templates That Get Replies

1. Set Up Meetings at a Networking Event or Conference

Events, both virtual or in-person, are a great excuse to set up a meeting with someone you’ve been looking to connect with for a while.

Whether it’s to chat about partnership opportunities, to interview someone for your podcast, or to pitch your services, an event is the perfect opportunity to ask.

Here’s a template to book meetings around an event or conference:

Subject line: Chat about [topic] at [conference]?

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Saw on the attendee list that you’re running a workshop at [conference] on [day] — I got a lot of value from your recent blog post on the topic, so I'm looking forward to the workshop to learn more.

I run a newsletter with 15k readers focused on [closely related topic]. Would you be interested in a 20-minute chat after the workshop? I think our readers would get a lot of value, and it should drive some traffic your way too.

Is that something you’d be interested in?



2. Quick Chat Over Coffee

If you’ve been following someone’s content or professional pursuits, you may have a few questions. You may also have your own insights to share and want to bounce them off someone with unique knowledge of the space.

A quick coffee chat, in-person or over a video call, is a great way to broaden your network and meet new interesting people.

Here’s the template:

Subject: Coffee next week?

Hi {{prospect.first_name}}

Read your recent blog post on [topic]. Really insightful, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I found [specific point mentioned] particularly interesting.

I’ve been writing on similar problems in my personal newsletter and would love to bounce some ideas off you, considering your knowledge of the industry.

If that’s something you’d be open to, would it be possible to get 20 minutes on your calendar to grab a virtual coffee next Tuesday?



3. Guest Posting on a Popular Site

If you want to boost your authority in your industry and connect with people running companies similar to yours, guest posting is a great way to do it.

If your email template works, most recipients will be happy to say yes.

The key to standing out from the crowd is to pitch a post idea that’s unique and makes sense for their company. If you can, add social proof. Highlight other brands you’ve worked with and the results they’ve seen with your content. The idea is to make it an easy decision for your recipient.

You can also offer them exposure in return: invite them on your podcast, feature a quote from them in your content, or promote their content for them on your social media channels.

Subject: Writing a post on [topic] for {{}} 

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Loved your interview on [podcast/blog] - interesting to hear how you manage your employee onboarding {{}}, may need to use some of those ideas.

Noticed you’ve accepted a couple of guest contributions on your blog recently and wanted to see if you’re currently open to new submissions. I’d love to write a post on [relevant topic #2] or [relevant topic #2].

[Similar site] recently published one of our posts and it got 50+ social shares in the first week.




4. Prospective Job Search Email

Is there a company you’d love to work at but they don’t have any vacancies that fit your skills? Most CEOs or recruitment managers will be glad to receive an email from an interested candidate, as it shows they’ve done a good job building their culture and reputation.

The level of formality needed depends on who you’re emailing, their company culture, and the job. But always remember, you’re emailing a real person.

Here’s a template you can use to network with prospective employers:

Subject: Question about working at {{}} 

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

I’ve been following {{}} for a few months now and admire how you’ve [notable milestone #1] and [notable milestone #2].

To save you time, I wanted to ask - do you need any help with [your area of expertise]?

I’m {{inbox.friendly_name}} and have recently worked on [interesting project] and have worked with brands like [similar company #1] and [similar company #2].

If you’re interested, would you be open to a 15-minute chat this week or next to see if this is something worth discussing?



Should You Follow-Up After Your Initial Outreach?

55% of replies to cold email outreach come from a follow-up.

The people you’re reaching out to are busy. 

There’s a good chance that they miss your first email, or don’t see replying as a priority. By following up, you prove that you’re willing to put your energy into chasing a reply and providing value to your recipient.

A Simple Process to Send Personalized Networking Emails with QuickMail

If you want to stay productive without compromising on personalization, you’ll need a cold email tool. QuickMail is designed to help you automate your email outreach and start more conversations with the people you're reaching out to.

Importing Your Email List

First, you’ll need your list of people to reach out to. If you’re struggling to find their emails, make sure to check out our guide to finding anyone’s email here. Ensure you have all the details you need in there, such as their name, company, email address, and even your custom opening line that we looked at earlier.

Then, you need to import your prospects into QuickMail. Make sure you map your spreadsheet columns to the correct information, like in the image below:

Creating Campaigns and Composing Emails

You’ll need to have a campaign that you can send to your prospects. Head to the Campaigns tab on the sidebar, and create your campaign.

Then, add your first step:

Now, you can create your first email.

Make sure to add the correct attributes. By doing this, every email you send will be automatically filled with the custom information you added.

For example, the {{prospect.first_name}} attribute will be automatically populated based on the first name column in your spreadsheet.

It’s a simple way to send personalized emails without having to type them out one-by-one.

You can also choose to track opens and clicks if you need insights into how your emails are performing (keep in mind that this can affect deliverability).

Following Up Automatically

As you know, you’ll need to follow up to improve your reply rate. Rather than handle this manually, create a new step after your first email.

Choose “Wait” as the step type. Then, choose the delay, for example, 3 business days. 

Create your follow-up email template, and it’ll be automatically sent to anyone who doesn’t reply to your email after the specified time.

Three to six follow-ups are generally enough. If someone hasn’t replied by then, it’s unlikely they ever will.

Following up is a great way to increase your chances of a reply, so always make sure to include at least one.

Collaborating with Your Team

Collaboration is free by default for all QuickMail users. If you have other members of your team or an assistant who needs access to your campaigns, you can easily add them.

All actions taken on your account are recorded automatically, so you’ll know exactly what actions your team is taking. 

You can get started with a free trial to see how QuickMail can help you network using cold email.

Wrapping Up

Cold email is an incredible tool to build new relationships, start conversations, and grow your network.

But, just because you can email anyone around the world if you have their email address, it doesn’t mean you should. Ensure you always have a valid reason to email them, and make your email about them, not about you. Look for ways to build rapport by looking into their past work, things you have in common, or even by asking a mutual connection to connect you.

Always remember, there’s a real person behind the email address, so make sure there's value in the email for them and show why it’s worth their time. 

Once your emails are ready, you can use QuickMail to send your networking emails. You’ll get access to our deliverability tools and integrations, be able to personalize emails without hurting your productivity, and follow up automatically to start more conversations.