How do you make the initial reach out to a potential partner? There is a lot of pressure on making a good first impression: you want to stand out and be noticed, but you also don’t want to look desperate or uninformed. From subject line to sign off, here are some key tips to help you write the cold email that will get read, considered, and acted upon:

Write a subject line and header that gets your email opened.

All caps might work in the subject line of an email from mom telling you to call her, but most of the time it looks like spam and it is not tactful. If the recipient does not yet know you, they are unlikely to think yours is the most urgent email in their mailbox. Acknowledging this fact is a sign that you respect their work and its significance. The email should also come from a personal address, not from a general company address (“” instead of “”).

Research who you are writing to.

Take the time to personalize your email. You should research anyone you are going to pursue a partnership with anyways to vet out who might be a good fit and who might not be worth the time. Showing that you know who you are talking to shows that you are being selective and prudent with your time and theirs. Make sure your email reflects that research and what makes that partner specifically great for a mutually beneficial collaboration.

Make a personal connection.

If it’s possible to get someone else from the company or a mutual contact to put you in touch, that is an easy way to connect personally. You can also do some research—look at what colleges they have been to, other companies they have worked for, other affiliations you may share. If you met at a networking event, bring up something you spoke about, such as, “I hope your camping trip in Montana was great. I am going to check out that trail you mentioned.”

Tell how you can help.

Your email should personalize what is in it for them—how partnering with you could help them out. Start with a sentence about what product or service you offer. State an area of pain that company currently has. Explain how your business can help with that.

Close with direction and humility.

Close by saying when you are available to meet or talk by phone and offer to come to their location or area, but also give them a way out. Leaving an ambiguous ending puts the work on their end and doesn’t specify the next steps. But also show your respect; you are not emailing to demand them to work with you or meet with you. And you don’t want to come off as assuming your business is their priority or indicating that you think they need help. You are emailing because you want them to consider how this partnership could be mutually beneficial.  Consider losing with a line like, “I am available to meet at x, y, z. If none of those times work, I am happy to look further out in our schedules. However, I understand if you do not have time to meet at this time. I appreciate your time and consideration.”

Cold email can be stressful. The email itself should be short and brief. But good thought and research should go into it. This research and the exchanges you have will also be telling to you whether this is a partner that is worth your time. A good quality cold email is worth a lot more than multiple copy and paste emails.