I’ve talked about sending Letters of Introduction (LOIs) many times on the blog, but I only touched on how to write them once – way back in the third issue of this newsletter.
So I thought I should go over this process again.
Cold LOI vs Warm LOI
When I talk about sending LOIs, generally I’m talking about “cold” LOIs. That is: emails you send to total strangers to introduce yourself.
Another type of LOI is the “warm” LOI. This is the introduction you send to people who have connected with you on LinkedIn or whom you’ve met (in real life or virtually) in some other context. These people vaguely know who you are, but they don’t have a good grasp of what you do or how you can help them.
Today I’m going to tackle how to write the cold LOI, because I think people find it more challenging to create. Many new freelancers find they feel very awkward about reaching out to someone they don’t know, and I totally get that.
One way to both craft a spectacular LOI and get over your fear or hesitation of emailing someone you don’t know? Tap into your nursing experience.
Consider this scenario: You come onto the unit to start your shift. You take report from the nurse who’s going home. Then you begin to round on your patients.
You enter the first door, and there lies Ms. Smith, calmly eating her oatmeal as she recovers from knee arthroplasty.
“Good morning, Ms. Smith,” you say pleasantly. “I’m Rachel Jones, and I’ll be your nurse today.”
“Oh, hello,” Ms. Smith replies. “I’m glad to meet you. How long have you been working here?”
“Well, I’ve worked at Pleasantview Hospital for 12 years now, and I’ve spent the past three years here on the ortho floor. I really love it,” you respond. “Are you having any pain right now, Ms. Smith? Because I can give you something for it, if you are.”
And so your conversation unfolds.
This is almost exactly how it works as a freelance writer, too, except the recipient of your LOI isn’t expecting to meet you, the way your patients are. But all of the skills you cultivated in greeting strangers (patients), sharing your credentials and background, and offering a solution to a problem translate exactly to how you should write your cold LOI.
The best LOIs are brief, solve a client problem, and include a call-to-action. Let’s look at each of these sections in more detail.
Sentence 1-2: Who you are, your credentials, and who you’ve worked with
There are many ways to successfully construct an LOI, and I often experiment with rearranging the sections of mine to see if one way or another gets a better response. (So far, it doesn’t seem to matter.)
Start by greeting your prospect by name, if at all possible: “Dear Ms. Jones.”
After that, a very common way to open a five-sentence LOI is with one or two sentences that literally introduce who you are. This also offers you a good way to front-load your LOI with the names of major brands you’ve worked with.
“I’m Elizabeth Hanes RN, and for the past decade I’ve helped major brands like Anthem, Dignity Health, Cardinal Health and many others drive business results with content that connects with their target audience. During my career I’ve pretty much written it all – from blog posts to white papers to video scripts.”
Sentences 3-4: Solve a problem
Your job, as a freelance nurse-writer, is to solve client’s content problems. But how can you know what the prospect’s content problems are? One way: research.
Take a moment to research various job titles within the content marketing industry to discover what those people might be responsible for. A content manager, for example, might be tasked with producing a content calendar, writing all types of content assets (blog posts, social media posts, white papers, case studies – you name it), and much more.
You can use Google, LinkedIn, or deeper searchers at places like the Content Marketing Institute to hunt up job titles and responsibilities. Focus on learning more about the titles you’re most likely to target.
Now ask yourself: Have you ever known an administrator who did not complain about not having enough time to accomplish everything they’re supposed to be doing? Did you ever meet a nurse manager who said, “Gosh, life’s great today! I have nothing but free time on my schedule!” I mean, come on.
My point is, I’m sure you can use your imagination to think of some core “pain points” your target prospects may be feeling. Surely lack of time to write all the content they’re responsible for should be on your list. And I’m positive you can think of many others.
Use the next two sentences of your LOI to address these hypothetical problems – and offer a solution:
“It must be challenging to produce the volume of content required by your job every day, and that’s where I can help. The content I will write for you will adhere to all your brand guidelines while it engages your audience and prompts them to take action: call, click, or schedule an appointment.”
Sentences 5: CTA (Call to Action)
After you’ve set the stage for the continuing the conversation, you need to prompt the prospect to take action. Don’t say something like, “I hope to hear from you.” That’s not compelling.
Instead, include a CTA that asks for a specific response:
Let’s chat by phone tomorrow about how I can give you more hours in a day for the important stuff: [link to online booking calendar]
Book a free consultation today to find out how to get your sanity back by collaborating with me on your content: [link to booking calendar]
Get started by filling out the creative brief at my website.
You also can offer them a free download of an ebook, or point them toward a post on your blog:
I’d like to offer you a complimentary copy of my ebook [title], to give you a sense of how I approach content creation. After you read it, let’s talk.
I invite you to check out this blog post I just penned about how SEO for social changed with the latest Google algorithm update [link to post]. After you read it, let’s talk!
The important thing is to be specific.
Use a Boilerplate LOI
When sending cold LOIs, volume is more important than personalization. Aside from personalizing the greeting (which I do whenever possible), you shouldn’t go to much trouble to personalize other parts of the LOI.
Your best bet is to craft a generic (boilerplate) LOI, save it as a Word document, and then copy/paste to the emails you’re sending to prospects. This approach allows you to send a huge volume of LOIs.
The moment a prospect responds, then they convert from a “cold” prospect to a “warm” one. Warm LOIs always should be much more personalized. I’ll go into how to do that in a future post.