Start with a 1-2 sentence explanation of why you are writing to this particular person. “I am writing to you because of your background in vermiculture for smallholder farms. Your unique approach to worm composting has long influenced my choice of earthworm food.”
Now, follow with 1-2 sentences about you. “I am a Peace Corps from Texas currently advising an agricultural cooperative in Guilder. We’ve spent the last two years increasing crop yield by 73% through targeted irrigation.”
Then comes the ask. “We are hoping to add earthworms to our compost in order to improve our soil. Would you be willing to do a brief phone call with me to discuss out approach?”
Finally, express gratitude for their time and assistance. “I’d be very grateful for your assistance. I know you’re busy.”
Close with your name and whatever word you end your emails with.
Here’s an example where the person wants an informational interview:
I am writing because of your background in epidemiology and your former position with Really Cool NGO. I am an epidemiologist currently working for the government of Guilder, and I am hoping to transition to the NGO sector. Really Cool NGO is exactly the kind of place I would like to work. I would love to learn a little bit about your experience there. Would you be able to meet for a coffee or a quick Skype call? I know you must be very busy in your new role with Even Cooler NGO; I’d be grateful for any time you could spare.