How you approach your prospective networking contacts could set the tone for your entire professional relationship—and if you approach a contact via email, the subject line can determine whether or not they open your email in the first place. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of subject lines for networking emails that will leave the best possible impression on your recipient.
As you undoubtedly know, the average professional is bombarded with hundreds of emails a day, and since many of them are generic sales or marketing attempts, the majority of them get deleted before they’re ever opened. The key to getting your networking contact’s attention early is hitting them with an email subject line that works.
The Hallmarks of a Good Subject Line for Networking Emails
Studying email subject lines is usually relegated to the realm of email marketing, but it’s also important to consider for your networking emails (and for sales, be sure to see our post on email subject lines for sales). Ultimately, your goals are getting attention, revealing your intentions, and introducing an appeal that prompts them to open the email.
These are the elements that make good subject lines for networking emails:
- Concise. People don’t have time to put up with walls of text from people they don’t know. The more concise your subject line is, the better.
- Friendly. Your subject line should be warm and friendly. If you sound cold, repetitive, or robotic at all, people aren’t going to be interested.
- Original. This one’s a bit tricky—you’ll need to come up with a subject line that your recipient hasn’t seen before. If you pick one that’s overused or too popular, your message is going to blend in as white noise.
- Relevant. This is one of the most important elements: your subject line should include some kind of specifically relevant link to your recipient. In some cases, that means mentioning a mutual acquaintance. In others, it means referring to the place where you met. You could also reference this person’s work, history, location, or interests—it all depends on what you know about them and whether you’ve met before. The more personally relevant it is to them, the better.
- Valuable. It’s nice to include some element of value in the subject line as well, or a hint that value may be around the corner. For example, mentioning lunch or coffee could entice a person to learn more about your offer.
- Inquisitive. Subject lines with requests or inquiries also tend to get more attention. Sometimes, asking someone for their advice or feedback is the best way to get their attention; it’s kind of a manifestation of the Ben Franklin effect.
50 Examples of Subject Lines for Networking Emails
Studying the general qualities of a good subject line can only get you so far. Here, we have 50 examples of networking email subject lines that work well, depending on the circumstances:
1. Hey [name]!
This is the simplest entry on this list, but it can still be effective. There’s no value or inquiry here, but sometimes, it’s short enough to stoke your recipient’s curiosity. Only use it if you don’t have any relevant links.
2. Introducing myself
This is one of my favorite subject lines for networking emails because it’s short and straightforward, revealing your intentions immediately. There’s no BS here, and chances are, your recipient will appreciate that. Again, it’s best used when you don’t have a relevant link.
3. [Connection] suggested we meet!
This is a good one if you have a mutual connection; if they have a good connection, this is usually enough to get them to open the email.
4. Do you know [possible connection]?
This one’s a bit riskier, but it has nothing to do with the subject line and everything to do with your approach. Here, you’ll be gambling that your new contact has a mutual connection to you; only use it if you don’t have something better up your sleeve.
5. Happy [holiday]!
Obviously, this one is time dependent. It’s a friendly way to open the conversation, but it might be mistaken as a marketing email, so be careful.
6. Happy [birthday]!
The same is true of birthday emails. You also only get one shot a year at this one.
7. Happy [work anniversary]!
8. We met at [location or event] – following up
This is ideal if you met someone at a physical location or event, and you’re following up with them. It’s enough information that they’ll likely remember you, and it’s not overly aggressive.
9. Referred by [connection] – are you free to chat?
Combo this approach with an inquiry to chat, and you might get the opens you need.
10. I agree/disagree with your thoughts on [topic].
If your recipient publishes content or frequently posts on social media, they likely have some strong opinions. Back them up or disagree with them—they’ll be incentivized to read your message either way.
11. Are you planning to go to [upcoming thing]?
If there’s an upcoming networking event, conference, or similar event in your city, mention it! If they know about it, they’ll engage with you, and if they don’t know about it, they’ll likely want to learn more.
12. I’m struggling with [topic], can you help?
Asking for help is a great way to get their attention, provided they have some time. Admit that you’re struggling with something and they’ll be more likely to respond.
13. I follow you on [social media] – can we chat?
This is another simple approach for social media connections. Try opening with a message on this social media platform before you move to email.
14. Feedback on your interview with [connection].
Somewhat situational, if your recipient has recently interviewed or been interviewed, try mentioning it—you can talk more about the details in your message.
15. Can I buy you coffee?
It’s not hard to persuade someone to let you buy them food or drinks. Open with coffee, and you’ll likely get a response.
16. Want to get lunch?
Lunch is more involved than coffee, so it might net you a slightly lower response rate.
17. Free for dinner?
Dinner escalates things even further, but it can work.
18. Biggest takeaways from [event]?
If you’ve both attended an event, or if you saw this person attend an event by themselves on social media, ask them about it. Feel free to share some of your own, if applicable, in the message.
19. I loved your work on [project/content].
This is another of my favorite subject lines for networking emails because people love flattery. However, compliments only work if they’re genuine. Feel free to use the subject line for generic praise, but be prepared to prove you’re a real fan in the body of your message.
20. I’m a big fan of [content/project].
The same applies here.
21. I saw your post on [social media] – would love to discuss.
Similarly, you can compliment a recent post of theirs and open a discussion.
22. [Organization] member – would love to connect.
This is ideal if you and your recipient belong to the same organization or group.
23. Can I help you with [whatever]?
Offering help can be valuable, but be warned—many sales and marketing emails are phrased this way. Make sure your recipient actually needs what you’re trying to offer.
24. New connection from [event/location].
Use this if you only met in passing at a recent event.
25. What is your best advice on [topic]?
The best way to use this is to target a topic you know is near and dear to this person’s heart.
26. Just hoping for a small favor…
You’re gambling with vagueness in this subject line, but it could be useful if you don’t have a stronger relevant link.
27. What’s your opinion on [topic]?
Here, the best kind of topic is something in the news—something that hasn’t been covered to death by your industry already. It’s going to pique their interest, and hopefully, start an intriguing conversation.
28. I’m into [interest] – would love to connect.
If you share any peripheral interests with this contact, the subject line can be a good way to reference it.
29. A friendly addition for [content/project].
You may also introduce yourself by offering a guest post or some similar content contribution. If you do this, make sure to frame it in a way that isn’t self-promotional.
30. It’s [name] from [event/location].
Don’t try to fool your contact; only use this if you’ve already met in the past.
31. Are you free this [future date] for a quick meeting?
Again, this is a common tactic in sales and marketing, so use it with caution. If the person is free this date, they may be inclined to see what you have to say.
32. New [city] resident here – would love to connect.
Lots of people are willing to help out newcomers in their area, so if you’ve recently moved here, mention it.
33. Aspiring [position] here – can I get your thoughts?
If you’re new to the industry or you’re trying to build your career from scratch, ask for advice and/or mentorship.
34. Just passing along my congratulations.
This is useful if you’ve heard about a recent success in the person’s life, such as a recent promotion or new job.
35. Congratulations on [whatever]!
A simpler and more straightforward version of the above.
36. I think you’ll be interested in this article.
This is best used if you’re familiar with the person’s content, opinions, or preferences. Find a piece of content (or write one) that interests them, and share it! Just be sure to provide context.
37. Fellow alum from [university] – would love to connect.
Obviously, this only works if you both went to the same college.
38. Just wanted to say thanks!
This is another of my favorite subject lines for networking emails because it feels great to know that you’ve helped someone. If this person has already helped you in some way, even trivially, a thank you email is a great way to snag an open.
39. Do you have time for [request]?
This subject line acknowledges this person’s probable lack of time, so it stands a good chance of being well received.
40. Looking to reconnect!
The exclamation point suggests enthusiasm, so feel free to omit it. What’s important is the sentiment behind it.
41. Can I get your opinion on [whatever]?
People love to share and talk about their opinions, so invite theirs!
42. We spoke [past event] – how are you?
A different spin on the “we already met” angle, try asking how they’re doing in general.
43. Can we share tips on [topic]?
If you work in the same industry or if you have the same field of specialty, ask to share tips; it’s a nice middle ground between offering value and asking for a favor.
44. We have a lot in common – can we chat?
Vague yet intriguing, this angle could be a perfect lead-in to a conversation. Just be sure you reference what you actually do have in common.
45. I’m lost on [topic], can you help?
If you know this person as an expert, feel free to ask for some pointers or education.
46. Remember me from [event/location]?
If some amount of time has passed since you met this person, ask if they remember you to acknowledge that gap.
47. Can you introduce me to [connection]?
This can be risky, since it implies you’re only interested in someone else, but it’s helpful if you’re trying to reach someone specific.
48. I hope you enjoyed [event]!
There’s no request or offer here; just a relevant link. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
49. Mutual content exchange?
If both of you produce content regularly, consider requesting or suggesting a mutual exchange of guest posts.
50. Do you have book recommendations for [topic]?
If you’re interested in this person’s area of expertise, ask them if they have any book recommendations. It’s a great way to get more opens (as well as a fuller reading list).
Additional Tips for Networking Emails
These examples of subject lines for networking emails should help get you started, but it’s also important to follow these tips:
- Don’t overly depend on a subject line. The subject line is one of the most important parts of your email, but it’s not the only ingredient that matters for your email networking success. Targeting the right prospects, discovering new leads in multiple different methods, and writing a sincere body message are equally important. Don’t lean on a strong subject line to be a successful networker.
- Avoid following the same formula. You may strongly prefer a subject line listed in the preceding section, or you may discover that one type of subject line works better than the others. Still, it’s important not to be too formulaic. If you email all your prospects the same way, it’s going to come off as cold and robotic. Plus, if you always do things the same way, you’ll never discover new tactics.
- Consider the situation. Always craft a subject line and message based on the current situation. Where did you meet or discover this person? What does their personality seem like? What do you have in common? The more custom-tailored your subject line is, the better chance it has to work.
- Be sincere. While you may treat networking as a sales or marketing strategy, to be coldly optimized over time, it’s better to just be sincere about it. Mean what you say, and don’t play games with people.
If you’re serious about improving your open rates and response rates when emailing networking prospects, you’ll need to analyze your email habits thoroughly. With EmailAnalytics, you can study your patterns of behavior in Gmail, noting your average email response times, your top senders and recipients, and how many emails you send and receive per day. Sign up for a free trial today, and get a hands-on look at how you can improve your networking email results!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.