Misbah Ashraf

@misbahspeaks

The art of sending an email — Why you should care to learn it

How I made my first 100k USD while still in college?

From journey of survival to making my first 100k USD while still in college

My journey of entrepreneurship started with the need for survival.

With few hundred bucks left in my pocket, I had some serious “How-to’s” staring at my face.

How will I pay for my food bills next day? How will I pay for my college fees next semester? This pushed me to leave my comfort zone and to try to do everything.

I often wondered — the whole world is connected over internet, isn’t it? Why can’t I use this as an opportunity to learn and survive together? This motivation forced me to go out of the way to experiment with things. After shutting down my first innings of entrepreneurship with Cibola, I made my mind to work with some of the best people around the world.

But the big question was HOW? I had no clue? All I knew was that I would be trying out my hands in reaching out to people, in every single way possible.

But what if they say NO?

Well, nothing is perfect when you first start off — that scares most people. But, I never took a step back from taking risks. I knew the worst that could possibly happen was that I would not get a response.

So, I started reaching out to more and more people. It was scary at first. I was trying to connect to some people that I knew were big shots in their domain. I wondered if they even had the time to reply to me or whether all this effort is going to waste. Despite my reservations, I clung on to my belief and listened to what my inner voice was telling me: ‘Try’

Doing “The Hustle”

Listening to my inner voice finally paid off.

The results I received in just one year were amazing. Through reaching out to these people and working with them, I made my first 100k USD which helped me to buy a plot for my parents, living in Bihar.

I learned how to build and scale social product very quickly by working with the best people from around the world, who had built some excellent products in the past. It is still the most challenging task for many people around the world.

“It’s not fiction, it’s Science.”

As Ramit Sethi says,

“You should fail more because it means you are trying new things. Fearing failing is like suicide. You won’t grow, scale or become better person. You screw up, learn and then screw less and finally you get hold of it.”

While in college, this is the one skill that I feel absolutely everyone should learn — how to write a cold email which grabs the reader’s attention.

The entire world is accepting remote work culture. Hence, the art and science of having clear communication will help any millennial jumping from his college life and entering into the professional world.

As a leader, if there is one skill that you should be very good at is communication. And, writing good email is a very important part of it.

Sounds serious or confused?

All the articles keep declaring that email is dead, but it is absolutely not. It is still one of the best ways to form a meaningful connection if done the right way.

Let your thoughts, genuine appreciation, and personality shine in an email. You might be surprised by what it leads to.

Here are few points that I have learnt during the journey of starting from 0–100k USD in a year while attending my college :

1. You have nothing to lose

Mark Cuban says

“Every no gets you closer to YES.”

What we fear doing the most is usually what we need to do. A person’s success in life can usually be measured by number of uncomfortable conversations he/she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing everyday that you fear. I got into this habit by attempting to contact people I admire.

If the person doesn’t reply, it’s not the end of the world. You’re exactly where you were before you sent that email. Usually not such a bad place.

If the person does reply, life just gets way more interesting.

This is an example of cold messaging that I used. I didn’t know the guy, but knew the fact that he is one of the best person in the industry to answer my queries and help me out. He replied to me after multiple followups. But If I had given up on sending him cold messages, I would never have gotten his response and it was the best possible feedback I have gotten in my life.

2. Learn art of 30 second glimpse

The subject of your email is incredibly important. Nobody has much time to go through everything they get in their mailbox. You have to be smart while sending your email.

  • Make your subject line smart enough to be opened by the reader. Because this is the first phase, you have to pass it, otherwise how would anyone read the content of your email. However, the subject line isn’t always the culprit for low open rates.
  • Your first 3 lines should give quick overview of Who you are? Why you are writing?
  • Last 2 lines should be focused on What is the final action you want from your reader?
  • Your email should have a story which can engage the reader to read the whole email and let them perform actions which you want from them. If your email copy is engaging, people are going to read it, regardless of the length.

This is the email I used recently to interact with one of the best consumer Internet investor. Although, We ended up doing no business together, he connected me to a lot of good founders who are building kickass products.

3. Research well before sending mail to anybody.

It is very important to know who you are writing the email. This might seem obvious, but it’s not executed very well in 90 percent of the emails I have received in the last 6 years. An impersonal, vague, bland email won’t get you very far. You need to do your homework very well. It helps you create good context in your email and make the email copy engaging also. It gives a very good message in the mind of receiver. It lets them understand that you are genuinely reaching out to him/her with a good context which could add value to you.

4. Give, don’t take

I truly believe that if you’re humble, helpful and earnest, you can use a cold email to your advantage.

I am very much aligned in the philosophy of giving back first and then asking for anything. I follow this always. Even when I am trying to ask for somebody’s 30 minutes. I try to add a lot of tangible value in the first 20 minutes and then ask for anything, if I feel I have added something tangible in his/her mission.

It creates a very good impact on people and they become open to helping you in any way they can. I have found this helpful multiple times and this helped me to work with people like Ex-Founders of Ask.com.

Good Karma always helps ✌️

I was traveling to Singapore sponsored by some client. I wanted to use this opportunity and to land some good meetings. I did my homework about whom I wanted to meet there and who could add value in long run to me.

I like to pepper in a small dose of self-effacing or dry humor to show a glimmer of personality. So, I offered up some help and deep dives I’d been doing in industries that were relevant, and asked if he’d be interested in meeting over coffee. I already looked into his Linkedin and stalking him on Facebook/Twitter. I knew he had just moved back to Singapore after spending his 20 years of professional career in the US. He is about to set-up his fund and any deep insights would be very valuable to him. It not only helped me to build a good relationship with him, he also introduced me to more than 50 companies from his portfolio across the globe.

5. Never forget to follow-up

Everybody is busy in their life. Sometimes they might miss your email or forget to reply. People do a lot of cold emails but are never able to do followup. Follow-up is one of the major keys behind success of converting your emails into opportunities.

  1. Consistently following up with people brings best results for entrepreneurs.
  2. Silence does not mean rejection — it might just mean that person got busy or somehow missed out your email.
  3. Learn to remind people you are really interested in having a conversation and try to provide some value in your follow-up email.

This was one of the follow-up emails I have used while I was trying to find some opportunities with Indian early stage funds. It helped me to engage in very interesting conversations with the best funds partner in India.

During last two years, I have started a new way to follow-up with my network. Because I have realised that we meet a lot of people in our lives, it is hard to stay updated on everybody. So, I had decided to write half-yearly update to my network.

This is one of the email copy I had used to reconnect with my network. I am always surprised with results I get. I have got my partner in business, a lot of good friends and a lot of crazy opportunities.

Cold emails are not easy to crack. It is a science which requires very hard practice to get perfect with it. I have spent my last 6 years on this.

Never hesitate to send cold emails and hustle your best to grab the opportunity you want.

I am really excited to announce today that I have decided to train 100 people this year on cracking the science of cold emails. You can find more information here

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