Sunday, February 18, 2007

Writing Powerful Introductory Letters

A visitor to my site recently asked me to critique a letter he was sending to someone he saw speak at a professional conference. The purpose of the letter was to introduce himself and request an informational interview. Like many of the introductory letters I see, the letter was very general and lacked the information necessary to compel the reader to pick up the phone and say "come on in".

Like cover letters, letters of introduction must contain evidence of your past successes and an overview of how these successes are transferable to another business environment. Don't just tell your reader that you are a fast learner, an out-of-the-box thinker or a great communicator...these attributes are meaningless unless they are discussed within the context of your achievements.

A better strategy, when writing an introductory letter, is to identify your profession and core competencies and then list three quantifiable examples of your success within this profession. For example, don't just say that you are detail-oriented...say that your attention to detail is evident from the $300,000 in accounting errors you uncovered last year or your ability to master five new computer software products in under three months is proof of your ability to learn new things quickly.

Remember, when you send a letter seeking an introductory meeting, you need to differentiate yourself and your most marketable skills. Ultimately you want the person you are trying to meet to become an advocate for your candidacy who can introduce you to a potential hiring manager or decision maker.

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