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I emailed some people on LinkedIn asking them some questions about their expertise. Most of them responded back and asked me to send my questions via email. I did. Now it's been over a week since and no reply yet.

How do I write a reminder email that is: - polite - saying "If they're busy maybe they can refer me to other people" without coming off as impatient.

I've looked in similar topics but the emails were addresses to co-workers.

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Welcome to Writers! Questions asking what to write about are off-topic here, but questions asking about technique and strategies for writing are fine. I'd suggest that answers speak to those, rather than just lay out sample text. –  Neil Fein Dec 13 '13 at 3:58
    
I am confused by your question. Are there two different emails? Two different sets of questions? Or, are your sentences not in chronological order? –  dmm Dec 13 '13 at 19:51
    
There were two emails sent: The second one is the one that contained questions. That's the one waiting for a response. –  Neil Fein Dec 17 '13 at 6:06
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2 Answers 2

Different roles call for different styles of writing, and how to phrase an email like this will hinge on whether you're a job seeker, someone who's networking, a recruiter, etc. But the techniques laid out in the question How to write a polite reminder email? will also apply here.

I suggest that you:

  • Focus on easy questions that will save them time. (Hopefully you've already done this in your original reply.) For example, a simple question is more likely to be answered than a multipage questionnaire.
  • Include the original message for reference. (Most email programs do this automatically, I'm not sure what the LinkedIn message editor does.) This will be helpful and will save time for the recipient. If they have to look up your original message, they're less likely to take the time to answer you.
  • Let the recipient know that you have a specific reason for messaging them a second time. Saying that you're waiting for them before you can do [something in particular] may remove the "annoyance factor" and help them prioritize. So, "Since I emailed you last, I've discovered that I need this information to do the thingamajig" can come across as friendly when compared to "It's been a week and you have not replied."
  • Make it easy for them. If you want them to refer you to someone else, make it a simple matter for them to do this quickly. Laying out the sort of people you're looking for may help.

Also, keep in mind that if you're messaging people cold, you just may not hear back from them.

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Several possibilities:

1) Your (second set of?) questions turned out to be more time-consuming than the responders thought they would be, based on your original contact. So, they don't want to do it, but are too cowardly to tell you, and they are hoping you will just go away. If you can determine that this is the problem, then maybe you can make your questions simpler or fewer. In this case, your follow-up email would have the perfect excuse: you are sending them an easier questionnaire.

2) Your (second set of?) questions turned out to be more specific than the readers thought they would be. Unless they know you personally, they may even be afraid that you are a spy. (Do a search on "humint" and you will see why.) Even if they know you're not a spy, they may have asked for permission at work and been told, "No way! This is proprietary info." In this case, make your questions more generic, if you can. And again your follow-up email has the perfect excuse.

3) They are just typical lazy/busy people. You are low on their priority list, so you keep getting put on the bottom of the stack. In this case, you'll have to be a nag. No getting around it. Just be a nag in the nicest way possible, of course. Pity might be your ally. "Out of 20 people, nobody has responded yet." Even better, combine that with some peer pressure: "Out of 25 people, only 2 have responded." Then you can keep sending reminder letters with the increasing count of respondees, to ratchet up the pity/pressure. (You won't get 100%; don't even try.)

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