My background is human resources, specifically career development, outplacement, executive coaching, and leadership development. I've dabbled in related areas, such as executive recruiting and workplace violence prevention, but I've always returned to my core competency: career and leadership development. This letter collection falls under that umbrella.
You may be consulting in a different specialty in a different industry than mine, such as . . .
- Genetic Research or Environmental Engineering
- Computer Systems Integration.
- Lean Manufacturing
- Finance, Law, or Medicine
- Fundraising, Education, or Government
- . . . or anything else.
Don't let that concern you. Regardless of your consulting field, our issues are the same . . .
- You're writing a critical proposal
- You've lost a key assignment to a competitor
- You're trying to collect an overdue account
And chances are, I've written exactly the letter you need. Your job will be to adapt my letter to your circumstances, your field, and your writing style.
My letters are warm because human resources is a people business. If you're a scientist, engineer, or technical specialist, my warm tone may not suit you so well. You may want to fill your letters with facts, figures, numbers and data. But don't forget: your letters can be friendly, even if they're formal.
It's easy to find the right letter to modify. They are indexed by topic, such as Proposals, Disappointment, or Collecting Bad Debt. Go to the Index in the right-hand column and review the titles under the appropriate topic. Or, if you prefer, simply type a term into the search bar at the top right of the page and click the gold arrow.
Once you find a sample letter, translate it into your own field. When customizing your letter, remember that the structure of the letter is important, and so are key words and phrases.
In a sales letter, for example, the structure may be:
You might want to retain the same organizational structure in your letter. You may import key words or entire phrases or paragraphs into your letter, but be careful to customize the language enough to make it your own. My first letter book, "200 Letters For Job Hunters," included a letter by Dale Kreeger that said, "Should you be aware of any friends or business associates who may be in the market for new blood and innovative thinking, I would truly appreciate your slipping them the attached copy of my resume."
- Opening question
- List of benefits
- Offer to speak by telephone or meet in person.
After the book was published, several of my clients drafted letters containing the phrases, "Should you be aware of . . ." and "I would truly appreciate your slipping them my resume." Although this wording worked for Dale because it was his, it didn't work at all well for copycats, because it didn't sound like theirs.
If they had written, "If you are aware of any friends or business acquaintances who may be in the market for a talented marketing executive, I would appreciate your sending them my resume," their letters would have sounded more real.
In 30 years I've given hundreds of sample letters to clients, asking them to draft one for themselves. Because there are hundreds of functional areas and industries in business, I seldom offer a sample that exactly matches my client's circumstances. There are just too many variations. Nevertheless, I've found most people can use a sample letter as a launching pad. Give it a try, and you'll find it remarkably easy.
Remember, it's the concept that's important, not necessarily the exact wording. Use words from your own head and heart and from your own life experience, and you'll sound real and credible.