How to conquer email- The request (part 1)


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Hello, this is part one of the request email series. We will give you tips on how to ask people for help, because we understand how hard that can be sometimes. We hope that you learn something new, enjoy!

The Request

No one likes asking for help, least of all we dislike feeling like everything we are doing is riding on someone else’s decision. Asking for a recommendation or help can be hard enough, but nailing an email along with it makes the terror only double. So what can you do to alleviate some of that anxiety?

Below we’ve listed some of the best practices for conquering a request via email.

  1. Use the Subject Line

The subject line of an email is often one of the most underrated parts of sending a stellar email. Part of getting your request answered is having your contact actually read the email you are sending them. I’m sure you’ve faced the bombardment of email after email of campus distribution mail. It’s hard to sort through a bunch of emails and if you’re like me you end up deleting a lot of what is sent to you. One way to make sure your email isn’t lost in an inbox is to include a standout subject line.

To help your email make the cut follow these principles:

  • Keep it short
  • Make it direct
  • Use keywords (i.e. Recommendation, Meeting, Request for)
  • Include important details (deadline, project name, etc.)

Your contact will be more inclined to help you if they know what you are asking for before they even open the email. You don’t want your subject line to be misleading, for example if you write “Internship News” and then ask your professor for a recommendation letter, they may not be prepared for your request or they may wait to open your email until a later date.

  1. Keep Your Greeting Short and Personal

There is something to be said for buttering someone up. Now, I’m not saying to go overboard, but being considerate and asking your contact about their past weekend or wishing them well will go a long way. After all, if you are emailing someone with a request you probably have some sort of history with them and can draw on that. The greeting is important, especially when asking for a recommendation of sorts, because it makes you sound less demanding. You want to build goodwill with your contact and incline them to responding favorably to your request. By greeting someone before launching into what you want from them, subtly says that you care about them ahead of yourself.

If you need more help with your greeting, see the “How to Conquer Email: The Greeting” portion of this mini-series.

We hope that you have learnt something from this mini email series, part two will be out next.

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