How not to write effective prospective messages

5 tips for more effective prospective messages

effective prospective messages – inspired by real events to think about what makes them

I received a message on Facebook the other day. This was another of those ‘give me work’ ones that usually get filed away (ahem). Usually, they’re from offshore companies. Rather than let it wash over me, it actually put me off – which is a shame really, as a well executed introduction could have been advantageous all round. So I chose it as the inspiration for this blog. Hopefully, if the individual concerned reads this, they will take this as an opportunity to learn – certainly, it is not intended as a dig (and they didn’t word it like the caricature of a letter you see in this blog!). So here you have “5 tips for more effective prospective messages”.

make it personal

Cutting and pasting without even taking the time to put their name into your message says “lazy”. You wouldn’t greet your new business partner or customer with “Oy you”. And if you want to impress them, come up with something that shows that you’re aware of what they do.

spelling and grammar

When you write, words are pretty important. If you can’t get them right, what message does it send about your attention to detail? Avoid overuse of punctuation too, as well as the misuse of it.

portfolio / cv

There are alot of things that you can sort out “on the fly”. But you need a portfolio and/or a cv – so get it together before you start contacting people asking for work. Writing a letter asking for work (esp a prospective letter) without the necessary portfolio or cv is like writing a job application letter without attaching your cv. For the solo business person, a website will impress even more.

be specific – or don’t mention it at all

If you’re going to talk about something, giving figures can help. It doesn’t mean that you should give a complete breakdown. For example, be precise about your timescales. No one can do something in “no time at all”. Also, do you have a backup plan – for example, does your work grind to a halt if you get ill?

don’t be like everyone else

What differentiates you from other people offering the same (or better) service? You’re up against stiff competition – so it helps to know why they should choose you.


Of course, none of this guarantees you success. Having what on the surface may seem to me effective prospective messages won’t get the door open if the doors are locked shut for the time being. A personal introduction or reference can work wonders. And if you word it right, and the moment is right, and everything else is right, you might just meet with some success.

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