I recently started a new interview series called “Women Who Exit”, with the purpose of telling the stories of women who had founded, grown, and then sold or merged their company.  I first started out with the people in my network but quickly ran out of leads. The next step was to start reaching out “cold”, in hopes of getting a 30 minute Zoom interview with some of these amazing women.

Here is my process and advice to others also reaching out to people they don’t know… and hoping to get a response.

#1 – Make your list

This may seem obvious, but I think it’s important to have a tracking system.  Create your top 10 or 20 prospects on a spreadsheet – add their LinkedIn url and other important social links (great job for your virtual assistant).  In fact have your VA help you research and come up with the target list!

Then keep track of who responded and make notes if you need to follow up.  For example, I will sometimes get an automated “out of office” reply.  You better be darn sure that I note that on the spreadsheet and put a reminder on my calendar to follow-up after their return date. Track your progress.

Follow-up tip – Blind copy yourself on your initial response and then use that same email thread if you need to reach out again.

Rule #2 – Set up a tracking tool

Wouldn’t you like to know if they are just ignoring you or if they actually read your email?  

I use Gmail and Google Chrome so I simply have a “HubSpot Sales” plug-in that I leverage to track certain emails.  “Streak” is also a good tool for Gmail users as well.

To be clear, I don’t use HubSpot CRM – I just use this Chrome extension.
You can also see how many times they opened your email, to get a sense of potentially how interested they are.  If they haven’t opened your email after a couple weeks, try to reach them through LinkedIn or another social channel.

Rule #3 – Try to build a little name recognition first

Think about how you can get your prospect familiar with your name.

Just before sending the email I do the following

  • Send them a request on LinkedIn
    • Like, comment, or share a few of their public posts on LinkedIn
    • Thank them when they accept your request
  • Follow them on Twitter (if they are active)
    • Like, comment, or share a few of their Tweets
  • Follow them on any other social media channels, on which they are active

Rule #4 – Carefully craft your subject line carefully


  1. If it’s valid, let them know you have a mutual contact… Subject line: “Friend of [mutual friend’s name]”
  2. Flatter them… Subject line: “You are an inspiration to so many women”
  3. Similarly, you can go with the mysterious… Subject line: “Thank you”

“Thank you” has consistently been the most effective in starting conversations. Then continue that thread right at the top of the email.  Hi ______ – Thank you for all you’ve done to inspire female entrepreneurs.  Your work is meaningful and has caused me to ____________.

Rule #5 – Keep it short!  

We’re all bombarded with emails.  If it’s short and sweet I’m likely to read it.  If it’s long I’m likely to ignore it, thinking I’ll get back to it later and then never do.

Answer the question

What do you want them to do?  Schedule a call?  If so, put that in bold. 

Rule #6 – Make it easy for them to take action

If you are asking for a call or interview don’t make them go back and forth to set something up.  Use a platform like Calendly or AcuityScheduling to make that process seamless.  

Here is my script…

“I would be incredibly grateful for 30 minutes of your time.  The interview is done via Zoom and will be an easy conversation.  Will you help me inspire women for generations to come?  🙂  If so, please schedule the interview at your convenience (link).   

Thank you in advance for your time!


Rule #7 – Thank them after the fact

This may be the most important rule of all… follow-up and thank them for their time.  These are very busy people.  Giving you even 30 minutes of their time is a BIG deal.  Have the common courtesy to follow-up.  In my case I’m letting them know their interview has been processed and is up on the channel.

This can be as simple as an email but I recommend sending an actual snail mail card, with perhaps even a token gift card inside.  

I guarantee that they will appreciate it and remember you for years to come.

Good luck!