Wharton management professor Adam Grant offers six pieces of advice. In summary:
- Go for practical over flashy subject lines
- Explain why they are the right person to answer your question (and don’t email if they are not)
- Do your homework beforehand
- Highlight uncommon characteristics you share
- Make your request specific, and keep it short and sweet
- Be demure and grateful, not demanding and not obsequious
If you like this kind of thing, my professor colleagues often tell me that the greatest favor I ever did the profession was this post: “Dear students: How to email to your professor, employer, and professional peers“.