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How to write networking email subject lines that get clicks

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Copper Staff

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Networking emails may not be the most exciting thing to write, but they're crucial for getting your foot in the door.

Whether you’re trying to connect with leaders in your field through email marketing or get in touch with a referral, networking emails are your way in.

There’s just one problem: No matter how eloquent your email is, it won’t work unless the subject line draws them in.

(How many statistics have you seen about people deciding whether or not to open an email solely based on its subject line?)

The bottom line: Your networking email subject lines need to be show-stopping to win you new friends.

In this article, we'll go over:

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Use these 4 best practices for your networking email subject lines.

1. Keep it short.

Some studies suggest that nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, as shown in this graphic from Business 2 Community:

Mobile readership makes it extremely important to write shorter networking email subject lines. If they're too long, they won’t be displayed properly on a mobile device, and your recipients will only see part of what you have to say.

As a general rule, try to write subject lines with less than 10 words. This will give you a better chance of the whole subject line being visible to the reader, even in a mobile inbox.

Pro-tip: If you’re not sure if a subject line is too long, try sending an email to yourself to test whether you can see the whole phrase from mobile.

2. Get personal (but not too personal).

Personalization has been touted as the next stage in email marketing — and it can also help your networking email subject lines.

One study found that using the recipient’s first name in the subject line can increase open rates by 2.6%. While it doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s a super low-effort fix that gives you a helpful boost:

increase open rates by adding subject's name in subject line.

So, try to use the recipient’s first name in the subject line whenever possible.

You can also personalize your networking email by mentioning things like:

  • Their business name
  • Their industry
  • A recent article they posted on LinkedIn

Putting in this extra effort helps show you’ve done your homework, you know who they are and what they do, and that this email is specifically for them.

Be careful, though, because personalization can also get creepy. So be cautious when writing a subject line for a networking email. Don’t mention things like where they live, where they went to school (unless you’re a fellow alumnus), or other overly personal details.

3. Name-drop whenever possible.

To start a conversation with a stranger, whether at a networking event or virtually, it’s always a good idea to find some sort of mutual connection.

This is especially true when you’re writing to a referral. Always mention the name of your mutual connection right in the subject line when contacting a new referral.

That being said, name-dropping, such as mentioning a mutual acquaintance, can be useful with other types of networking emails, and at networking events, as well.

Let’s say that you recently attended an industry event. Maybe a glance at the LinkedIn profile of your intended recipient shows they were also at the event. In that case, you could include the name of the event in your networking email subject line.

This is a more subtle type of name-dropping in a networking subject line that helps build trust on the foundation of mutual interest and experiences.

4. Ask for advice, not favors.

Nobody likes getting an email from a stranger asking for a favor, especially when it shows up in a networking subject line..

Whatever the goal of your networking email, avoid asking for favors like a cat avoids a vacuum cleaner.

Instead, ask for advice in your subject line for a networking email.

This is one of the highest forms of flattery you can offer to a stranger who you’re trying to connect with. Making it clear from your subject line that you’re looking for some sage wisdom, such as career advice, may convince them to open your email and see what you’re all about. This can lead to follow up emails and strong connections.

Now that we have those best practice tips down, let’s get into some examples of compelling subject lines that you can use to get a recipient’s attention in your next networking email.

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Pick the right networking email subject line for your goals.

Depending on the goal of your networking email, your subject line will be different (just as it'll be different if you're trying to write the perfect sales email). Here are some sample subject lines for four different types of networking emails.

Offer a virtual handshake.

If you’re looking to get introduced and develop a relationship with an influencer or someone in your field, these subject lines can be the virtual handshake you need to start up a conversation.

“Fellow [industry] professional looking for some quick advice.”

This subject line personalizes your email by including the industry, and asks for advice instead of a favor.

“Hey [name], loved your article on [topic].”

Here, personalization takes the form of the person’s name. And you know how great a feeling it is when someone appreciates your work.

“Inspired by your LinkedIn post on [topic].”

So many professionals post stories, anecdotes and opinions on LinkedIn. This could be a great way to start a connection with someone based on your interest in the topic they wrote about.

“Fellow [job title] hoping to swap stories and advice.”

Mentioning the job title of the person you’re contacting (and that you have the same title) sets you up as a peer. This simple subject line is very clear about the intentions of this email, and forms the basis for a meeting down the road.

“Hi [name], will you be at [event]?”

Going to industry events and conferences is a great way to network. If you’re looking to connect with someone specific at an event, try using this networking email subject line to warm them up to you.

Prospect for new leads.

Using a networking email to prospect for sales can be a great way to warm up new leads and get them familiar with your name and business.

“Feeling [emotion] about [industry news/challenge]?”

Mentioning an important piece of industry news or a common challenge is a great way to develop a solid connection.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell inventory software to busy e-commerce business owners during the holiday season. That email subject line could read: “Feeling stressed about managing your inventory during the holidays?”

“Hi [name], quick question about [goal].”

This adds personalization with a combination of their name and a common industry goal. It also includes just a hint of mystery: if they want to find out what your question is, they’ll have to open the email.

“Hey [name], sorry I missed you.”

Sales can involve a lot of telephone tag. If you haven’t been able to get in contact with a prospect over the phone, this subject line can help you get in the door with another form of communication.

Follow up on a meeting.

Sometimes networking emails take on the job of a reminder. When you’ve had brief contact with someone and would like to jog their memory and continue the conversation, try using these subject lines for reconnecting via email.

“Hope you enjoyed [event] as much as I did.”

Mentioning an event that you both attended will build a level of trust in the sincerity of your email and help the recipient remember who you are.

And if the event was a bust, you can also use the opposite version of this subject line: “Were you as bored at [event] as I was?”

“Hey [name], sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat at [event].”

No matter where you met this person, this subject line is the perfect way to restart a conversation that never took off in person.

Whether you met quickly at a coffee shop on your way to work or during an industry conference, this subject line allows you to begin the conversation again.

Get in touch with a referral.

Referrals are a powerful tool for your business, but the networking email subject line that you use when contacting a referral is just as important as the message itself.

“[Mutual connection] suggested we connect about [topic].”

Mentioning the connection right away helps ease the mind of the recipient. At the same time, specifying the topic helps them understand from the get-go why you’re contacting them, and will put them in the right frame of mind to read your message.

“Hey [name], I’m a friend of [mutual connection].”

In this subject line, the word "friend" could easily be replaced with "colleague" or another appropriate word. That way, the recipient understands not only who you know, but how you know them.

“Your golf buddy [mutual connection] thought I could help you with [problem].”

Once again, the word "golf buddy" can be replaced by another appropriate phrase, such as "boss" or ‘"co-worker." In this case, you’re offering help that has been recommended by someone that they trust, thus building their trust in you and what you’re offering.

Are your networking email subject lines getting clicks?

If they’re not, it’s time to put these ideas into practice.

Make sure your subject lines aren’t too long. Keep them personal. Name-dropping is almost always effective, and asking for advice rather than favors builds trust.

Make sure you’re choosing the right subject line for the goals you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s to make the initial contact, prospect for new leads, follow up on a meeting, or reach out to a referral.

The examples we mentioned above can help you craft your own effective networking email subject lines. Put these tips into practice and watch your open rates soar.

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