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  • Sydney Phillips

How to Get a CEO to Respond to Your Email

Updated: Apr 14

The truth is organizations are filled with obstacles so that you can’t access the top tier talent. Regardless of how “accessible and open-door policy” as they claim to be, it could still take days, weeks, or even months to schedule a meeting with someone in the C-suite. If you’re not an employee of the company – well, forget it. You just won’t get heard. They have assistants, managers, directors and about every title you could imagine to guard you from getting into touch with those C-suite execs.

If you’re anything like me, this is frustrating. I’m a natural system breaker – and quite possibly a HR nightmare (but we’ll talk about that another day.) These corporations are incredibly successful and yet, we can’t access their knowledge and their leadership. Just like with coding, there is always a way around the system and today, I am going to show you how.

You’re going to start out with “Dear So and So, I know you are incredibly busy and get tons of emails. This will only take sixty seconds.” You want to make sure that they realize in the first 10 seconds that this is going to be short. If you want someone, anyone, to respond to your email, a great question to ask yourself is: Can they read it entirely and respond to it in the time it takes to step into an elevator and get to the 4th floor?

In one or two lines, you are going to establish your credibility. This can be something like “I am at this university, I have been working in the NYC area for the past year, I heavily indulge myself in quantum computing on the weekends” ... hey, I’m not here to judge what you do with your time. Do your thing - more power to you! Just make sure that they know what your “thing” is and why your name is in their inbox.

Next, you’re going to ask a very specific question. This is where you shine. Don’t ask some baseline question that they have answered in a magazine for years. Don’t ask about their biggest struggle.... or their journey to CEO. If they were honest, they would say “a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck” – and you know what that does for you? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ask them a question that you can actionably turn into something.

Lastly, you’re going to say “I totally understand if you’re too busy to respond, but even a one or two line reply would totally make my day.” This tells them that you’re not entitled, and you just want to talk to them and get some advice, direction or knowledge. They don’t have to write you a novel about how quantum computing or the retail brick and mortar stores will change in the next 5 years, they don’t even have to respond ... but if they did, they would make your day. Anyone – let me rephrase that, most people that are in the public eye, just want to connect, share and build. Sign it with your name and press send with some confidence. You did that. Now, you deserve some coffee!


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