How do you invite someone to a meeting?

I’m not talking about friends or acquaintances here—I’m talking about inviting important people who you’d like to get advice from. CEOs and managers who you’d like to pitch your ideas on. Company owners who you dreamed of working for. These people.

Twitter? Nope, too casual.

LinkedIn? Nah, your message will probably just get deleted.

Facebook? Sure, if you’re already friends with them—which is highly unlikely—but even then, it’s still too casual.

Even with the advent of instant messaging apps and Social Media, email remains the top means for communicating professionally.

But before you go fire up Gmail or Outlook and start blasting away, there’s one thing you need to understand.

Your email will get deleted.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a scenario.

John is a writer. One day, he comes up with an idea for Oprah’s website that he absolutely thinks kicks ass. Oprah’s assistant, Mary, is her neighbor. “Surely she’ll help me out”, he thought. Excited, he shoots her a quick email:

Hi Mary,
I’ve come up with a super-awesome idea for Oprah’s website. Could you set me up with a meeting with her so I can pitch my proposal?

If you were Mary, what do you think your response will be?

Sure thing, John! Let me call her right away!”

Nope, I didn’t think so. Even as an exercise, you probably cringed at the idea of reaching out to the Queen of Talk simply because your neighbor asked you.

Here’s the thing – this actually happened! It’s based on an article from Paul Brunson, who works with Oprah. You can read about it here.

See? It’s not easy.

It’s not a matter of intent or talent.

You may have the best intentions and the greatest of ideas but always remember that the first step is getting them to click on your email. These are super-busy people. Having a VIP even read your email – let alone respond – is an achievement on its own.

And that’s you’re going to learn about today.


There’s a lot that goes into writing the perfect email that can land you a meeting with anyone you ask. I’d say 50 percent goes into research or what I call “Inception” (more on this later) and the other 50 percent is writing the email.

How did I came up with this ratio?

Like a master advertiser, you have to go deep into the person’s mind to know what will make them buy what you are selling. I know this may sound complicated, but it isn’t. Like following a recipe, there are steps that you can take to make that one shot you have count.

Each part of your email has to count. It has to stand out. It’s got to be so interesting to the person reading it that they can’t help but click and respond.

But how are you going to make it uber-interesting to that person?

Imagine sending Mark Zuckerberg an email containing your top secret idea about how Facebook can be optimized to work smoothly even in the slowest of connections.

You spend the whole day composing the email, excitedly sharing how you worked on this project for 3 years and the time has come for Mark to learn about it.

On the subject line it read: “Please take the time to read this great idea”

With sweat building up on your eyebrows, you hit Send.

You hit the bed, but you can’t sleep. After all, you just sent Facebook’s CEO an email containing the details of the project you worked on for years.

Morning comes, you check your Inbox. No response. “He’s busy”, you thought.

Days passed, no “New email from Mark Zuckerberg” alert from your phone. Zilch. Every day you check your email 10 times, just to be sure you didn’t miss it.

“Why hasn’t he responded yet?”, you ask yourself. You send a couple of more emails to follow-up but there’s still no word from the guy.

Years later, by some dumb luck, you bump into him at an event.

“Hi Mark, you don’t know me but I actually sent you a couple of email years ago about a project that I thought will greatly improve Facebook’s services in third world countries.”,

“Really? I hate to say this but I don’t even remember getting that email. I’m pretty sure I would have read it if it’s about improving our services”.

And just like that, all those years of hating on Facebook’s CEO disappeared. You realize it was not because he thought your idea was crap, he just probably thought your email was spam.

I know what you’re thinking—too unrealistic? Absolutely.

Surely, this scenario is over the top. But what I wanted to emphasize was that sending an email to a VIP and getting it read and replied to is no easy task. More so if you’re asking for something. If it was, everybody would be doing it. But people don’t. Because we know that sending a random email will just probably end up in their Trash folder.

Heck, even you and I don’t bother clicking and responding to random emails from strangers. Who knows what that email contains? Better drop it in the Trash—and block that sender’s email to be safe.

So what can you do to increase your chances of getting your email read and responded to? I’ll show you how in the following sections.

Do Your Research on the Person

Anyone can write and send an email, sure. The question is, will your recipient read it?

Everyone is fighting for our attention: social media, instant messaging apps, emails, new tasks, phone calls, Netflix, and more—it’s hard to stand out through all the noise.

A goldfish has a longer attention span than us.

Nope, that’s no typo.

Microsoft conducted a study in 2015 and the alarming result showed that humans these days have an attention span of 8 seconds.

Eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to pitch your idea. That is, if it even gets read at all. Your email needs to hook them up, then reel them in.

Here’s where the “Inception Technique” comes into play.

The Inception Technique

In the movie, Inception, Leonardo Dicaprio’s character slips into other people’s dreams to “plant” scenarios, thoughts, and ideas with the hopes of influencing that person to decide and act in a particular way once they wake up.

It’s somehow similar to hypnosis, where the hypnotist skillfully “controls” the patient through a series of commands and actions.

If you want to “condition” your recipient to want to click on your email, you have to copy Leo’s technique and use “inception” to get into their mind and influence this action. So how to do this?

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Know their whereabouts online

Most people nowadays have social media accounts. Check Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora or blogs as your starting points. To help you with this, pull up Google. A quick “FIRST + LAST NAME + SOCIAL SITE” search combo usually does the trick.

Step 2. Know what interests them

Once you see them online, you can search that platform to know more about their professional (and personal) interests.

For example, if they tweeted a rant about a problem they are currently facing, that can be a good topic to look into.

Or if they shared a photo of their favorite NBA basketball player, that can be some conversation fodder you can use in the future.

Remember, our goal here is simple.

We just want to know more about that person, that’s all.

So that when we compose that email, you can craft it to be “perfect” for him or her, making it more likely for them to respond.

Step. 3 “Prime your name to that person”

A study by Robert Zajonc published on the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explained the concept of “Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure”.

Simply put, “mere exposure” to a person, idea, object, etc., generates a “mild affection” towards that stimulus.

This means that by making your name look familiar to that person, there will be a better chance of them clicking your email once it pops up in their inbox.

So how do you do this?

You can follow them in Social media, like their comments/posts, retweet their posts, respond to their post if they’re asking about something, comment on their blogs—you get the idea. Anything to get your name in their faces.

The goal is to make it look familiar enough for them.

You might be asking, “Do I really have to go through the research phase just to have a better chance of having them click my email? Besides, it sounds too much effort just for an email”.

Here’s my answer: Yes. It’s imperative that you do the Inception Technique because no matter how awesome your idea and email is, if they don’t read it, that’s the end of it for you.

Why is it so important, you ask? The next section will show you why.

Operant Conditioning

In advertising, marketers continuously develop ways to reach into your “subconscious” because they know that’s where the triggers for your actions come from.

In the New York Times bestselling book, “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg explained how Febreeze become a household staple when Procter & Gamble realized that if people did not see any incentive to use Febreeze (originally a scent-free solution intended to remove bad odors), they will not use it.

After further testing, they added a scent to it. This is what actually made people start using it, even if their room did not smell bad to being with. They wanted to smell that fresh scent!

What’s the rationale behind this? Here’s the answer: Operant Conditioning.

It’s the idea that people’s actions and behavior are dependent on its consequences.

We want to do stuff that will make us feel rewarded.

In our Febreeze example, even if it was able to remove bad odors, its scentless-nature still made it feel like nothing happened. Like applying perfume, people “expect” to smell something to feel its effect. Through Operant Conditioning, P & G made “smelling good” the reward when people spray it. And this is what made Febreeze sales soar through the roof.

So what does this have to do with our email?

Remember our scenario with Oprah earlier?

If you read the original article I linked, Paul stressed that in order to get something from someone, first you have to “give, give, give”. And then you ask. To quote Paul,

Keep in mind the #1 rule of influence is reciprocity. Doing many somethings for the person you’re building with before you make your ask will dramatically increase your ask getting answered.”

By doing a combination of constant exposure and operant conditioning, you’ll get a significantly higher chance of success because of the rule of reciprocity.

Let’s say you used the Inception Technique and always shared or liked their social media posts, actively engaged them in Twitter, featured them in your articles, or maybe did something extra special for them that not only made them remember you, but also made them feel grateful towards your actions—what do you think they will do when they see your email?

By the Rule of Reciprocity, they will be inclined to open your email, read it, and respond. Because that’s their way of showing their thanks and appreciation for all the stuff you did for them online.


All things considered, this is actually the easier half of our little project. Using the next couple steps, you will be able to easily craft an email that will get you that meeting with anyone you ask.

Come up with the Perfect Subject Line that Reels People In

My morning ritual consists of drinking coffee as I scan my email for important or urgent stuff. If there’s none, I go through the list of newsletters I subscribed to for some quick reading until I finish my cup of joe.

This morning, I saw an email with the subject line: “Useless Millennials”. Curious, I clicked and read it.

Turned out that it was a just a scenario-based quote from a boss to his young employee. While the rest of the email was decent, it was not really something that I would have clicked first had it not been for that subject line.

Cool trick, huh?

Take a look at your inbox. See which ones tend to get your attention and try to ask yourself why it did.

In my example, the subject line made me very curious (I wondered if somebody actually called someone a “Useless Millennial”) that I had to click it. It generated intrigue. I wanted to know what it was about.

“Business Writing Today” author, Natalie Canavor, explained that most email subject lines fall into one of these categories:

  • Essential Information – makes you want to read the email because of the importance of the contents. For example: “Tuesday meeting rescheduled, click for more details”
  • Good Deals – makes you want to read it because it contains discounts or promos that you can use. Example, 50% off on your next iPhone purchase!”
  • Interesting and creates intrigue – makes you want to read it because you want to know what the subject line is referring to and you think it might be useful. Example: “This Morning Ritual Will Make You 2x Your Productivity”
  • Curiosity-driven – makes you want to read it simply because it makes you curious what it’s all about. Example: “Useless Millennials” or Monkey in a NASA Spacesuit Meets Elon Musk”
  • Funny or cute – makes you want to read it because it’s cute and funny. Examples: “Baby Panda Sleeps With Eye Masks On”
  • Useful Information – makes you want to read it because of the valuable information it contains. Example: “Top 3 Free Ways to Speed Up Your Computer”
  • Sender of the Email – makes you want to read it because you find like that person or find him or her important. For example, emails from mentors or important people.

For our purposes, we want our subject line to fall into categories 1 and 7. We want our reader to be inclined to click and read our email by virtue of our name (Inception Technique) and the importance of the topic. We don’t have to make our subject line look like a catchy, clickbait-y title, rather, we will focus on the value that it will bring to our recipient.

Things to Remember When Creating the Subject Line

  • Value to the reader – The subject line should instantly appeal to the reader in terms of the value they can get if they read that email.
  • Clear and Concise – Be as accurate and as sharp as you can. The topic should be indicated in the first 5 words of the subject line. Why? If you’re recipient checked their email using their smartphone (very likely), chances are, the formatting will not be similar versus when opened full-screen on a computer. This means you only have a little space to show your subject line so you better make it clear right away. Because if you don’t, you’ll risk it getting flagged as another spammy email. I can’t stress enough how important your email should pop-out from their inbox since they literally get hundreds of it in a day. Make every word count.

Salutation & Over-all Tone

In general, the tone of your email should be business-casual. You don’t want it to be too formal that your email sounds too daunting and impersonal. The same can be said for being too casual, you don’t want to risk sounding too unprofessional.

As for Salutations, stick to the basics: Hi, Hello, and Dear works best. Nowadays, people expect to be called by their first name, so do that.

The Perfect Email Body

Stroking the Ego

Forget the usual opener. Your email body should go in fast and hot or your email will risk sounding like another networking email from some random dude.

To prevent this from happening, cut the usual self Intro and warm-up.

Explain why you “chose them” and show appreciation for the person’s work and accomplishment. People love getting complimented and praised. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs have “Esteem” (Achievement & Respect) listed as second to the top.

William James once said, “The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” The key is not overdo it and sound sycophant. It’s important to keep your compliments short and sweet, just enough to keep them reading and interested in what you have to say.

Find Common Ground & Build a Connection

People tend to favor others who have similar views and interests.

By sincerely conveying an experience, point of view, or belief that aligns with the reader’s own, they will tend to react with a positive feeling towards you which will help you with your case later when you go and ask them for a meeting.

Establish your Authority

After finding common ground and making your reader feel at ease towards you, it’s time to establish your authority on the subject.


Because you have to show them that you are worthy of their time and you did your homework.

The goal is not to look like a complete novice asking a master to start teaching them—this is not Mr. Miyagi teaching the Karate Kid how to kick enemies with one leg raised. It should look like you’re an experienced journeyman looking to hone your skills and craft further.

What’s in it for them

To increase your chances in setting up that meeting, you have to present something of value that they can get out of agreeing to meet with you.

Depending on your agenda, you can propose to do “X” if they can honor your request. I would like to stress though that while helpful, this step should be applied on a case-to-case basis.

Sometimes, people will happily accept your invite out of the virtue of being helpful or if they really started to find you interesting via Inception Technique or through pure curiosity.

Always Close Strong & Polish your Email

In line with keeping things short and concise, your closing should be direct yet polite. You should check out our examples section later for some ideas on this.

After constructing the email, it’s crucial that you proofread and polish it before hitting send. Take a couple of minutes to check for typos and edit some words for better clarity and flow.

Follow-up Accordingly

You should always expect that your email will not be replied to right away especially if you’re emailing a VIP.

However, you should also do your due follow-up to make sure he did get it the first time and if not, it allows you to remind him about it. If you do not receive a response in a week, best to shoot them a quick email reminding them about it.


Let’s take a quick look at our finalized template on how to craft the perfect email to get you a meeting with anyone you ask:

A. Do your Research on the Person

  • Know their whereabouts online
  • Know what interests them
  • Prime your name to that person

B. Craft the Perfect Email

  • Coming up with the Perfect Subject Line that Reels People In
    • Create Value
    • Be clear and concise
    • Use the right tone and salutation
  • The Perfect Body (for Email!)
    • Stroke the Ego
    • Find Common Ground and Build a Connection
    • Establish your Authority
    • What’s in it for them
  • Closing Strong & Polishing your Email
  • Follow-up accordingly

Case Study #1

In our first example, we’ll take a look at this email shared by Ramit Sethi, a popular personal development trainer who teaches people about business and creating wealth.

To give you a bit of context on what’s the email about, a website developer emailed Ramit to ask for the chance to network and receive advice. His main draw was to work for Ramit for free in exchange.

But he made it clear that if there’s some chance in the near future, he’d like to get paid. And here’s the amazing clincher—Ramit did accept his offer within minutes of reading the email. According to Ramit,

While you can tell he’s fishing for paid work, he counters by letting me know that he’d “be happy just for the opportunity to network and receive a little advice.”

This one’s a perfect example that applies several key ideas that we discussed above.

Case Study #2

On this next example, David Khim showed how he come up with a compelling email that landed him an interview for his dream job (he got hired!).

If you read the entire article, you will see that David used the same research process (Inception Method) before crafting his email.

Case Study #3

In this last example, bestselling author Tim Ferriss shows an email he received from a website owner seeking his advice.

He liked how the sender was clear and direct in his email and was not annoying in terms of frequency of emailing him. Make sure to read the original article linked so you can see Tim’s own notes.

Introducing: The Email Template That'll Get You a Meeting With Anyone You Ask

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