Email: On Its Deathbed?
So many of my friends are holding a stack of business cards but still feeling empty-handed. While email is still with us, why not take advantage of some advice on how to start the electronic conversation? Here are some ideas on what to do with a networking contact to get the results you need. Specifically, I’d like to share some strategies I’ve used to create emails that get answers.
Networking to the next level requires some clear strategy. Send it or say it, here’s a new way of thinking about your message.
“Time to Talk?”
That’s the subject of your next email, the one you’ve been wanting to send to your newest VIP contact. “Time to Talk?” is open-ended and non-threatening. It could mean, “Do you have time to talk?” Or, “Is there a time when we could talk?” or even, “Look, it’s time to talk!” The response to that question is, under any interpretation:
“Talk about what?”[vimeo clip_id=23603980 height=250 width=500]
Question and response. Hmmm… you just started a conversation. The objective of your email is to generate interest, and ultimately, a response. I assume you have something you would like to know about? If you are seeking a new opportunity, you need to approach this message with a clear idea in mind. The objective is to secure a conversation to discuss your idea, and that’s why you need a “time to talk”.
[box] An initial networking contact is a quest for information. So many folks misinterpret Steven Covey, and begin with the end in mind… instead of seeking first to understand, than to be understood. If your opener is, “So, do you want to buy some of my stuff? Are you the decision-maker? [or even worse] Do you have a job? Do you know someone who has a job?” Yikes, Gunga Din. It’s probably not “time to talk”. My magic will not work for you.
Ask a question before its time, and you will get the wrong answer. It takes time to earn the right to advance, and a time to talk is step 1. Have you proven that this company is a good customer, or somewhere that you want to work? Do you know that your contact is the sole decision maker?
Come to your contact with a demonstrated knowledge of their business or situation, and ask them to confirm/deny or elaborate on a specific idea or theory.
Establish common ground – where you connected, and why. Then, demonstrate a knowledge of your subject and request a brief (less than 20 minute!) conversation. And remember that “Send” doesn’t mean “Stop” – nothing of any consequence happens without that all-important next step: follow-up!