Hesam Panahi

Hesam Panahi

Essays, projects, and other adventures

Write more cold emails

“Meet me at the radio station on Friday.”

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the message. On a whim, I had emailed my favorite local DJ. I never expected they’d respond. 

It was the early 2000s and with the rare exception of a one-hit wonder, you didn’t hear dance music on the radio in Houston. But every Friday, one of the best DJs in the city, Mike Anthony, was shuttling boxes of records and CDs to a local music station, 104 KRBE, to play four hours of sonic bliss.

I listened every week. And when I moved to Atlanta for university, I kept tuning in remotely via a live stream. Outside of my travels to Europe, I hadn’t heard anyone playing artists like Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Solarstone, and others. Week after week, I stayed glued to the radio. I listened to him effortlessly transition from one song to the next, matching the beats and dropping one hit after another.

Then one day, I had to email Mike to share how excited I was about the music he was playing. I wrote him an email highlighting some of the tracks he played that I enjoyed, and asked if I could drop off a CD to him with some other tracks I thought he’d like. A few days later, I met him at the radio station parking lot before his broadcast and dropped off my CD. We’ve been close friends ever since.

Years later, Mike ended up DJing at my wedding. And this weekend, he’s celebrating a big milestone birthday by playing one more set with all the classics from back then. And my friendship with him all started with a cold email.

I continue to cold email, hoping people will respond. I’m always amazed at how often they do, willing to connect with a complete stranger on the Internet who appreciates their work. A little gratitude for someone goes a long way.

When most people open their inboxes, they’re overwhelmed with spam, company newsletters, and email chains that they wish they could mute. And when people get cold emails, it’s usually dry, a solicitation, or the length of a dissertation. Getting a short, cold email from someone that is inspired by your work is a welcome departure.

When cold emailing, I always try to be thoughtful of what I’m asking for and to compliment someone in a meaningful way. I know that not everyone will respond, and that’s okay. But putting yourself out there and emailing people you admire can open up new possibilities you never imagined.