Last week, I wrote about surefire ways to get your e-mails or calls ignored.
If you want things to happen, you need to successfully connect. Connecting is a skill. Yes, the simple e-mail or call needs to be learned. Because, like Air Jordan tattoos, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
So here are Seven Big Keys for successful connecting. [Since we use e-mail most often, I’ve focused on this type of communication. But the concepts apply in any form.]
Keep these in mind and your next note won’t inspires a press of the delete key.
1. Get to Your Point
Be concise, clear and upfront. If I don’t understand what you’re asking in 10 seconds, I’m moving on. It’s not that I don’t like you, I just don’t have time. What do you want me to do? Even if it’s just an e-mail response your looking for, give me a call to action, QUICKLY. This is the biggest e-mail mistake made.
I’m a huge fan of using bullet points. You’ve called attention to the specifics, so I don’t have to. Try something like this -
Dear Dr. John -
Thanks for meeting for coffee today. Your insight has helped me to focus my job-search efforts to the medical field. Would you recommend other doctors I could meet to learn more about hospital employment opportunities? Specifically -
- Those who work in the cardiac unit
- Those focused on pediatrics
- Those who work at Children’s or Swedish Hospital
I now have specific criteria to help you with.
2. Write less
Word-count is overrated. Don’t believe me? See below. If the supreme law of America can be written in 5,000 words, you can get your point across in 100. As Jay Conrad Levinson says in Guerrilla Marketing, “you aren’t writing for a grade”. Check out the graphic below from the article, “Yes, College Essays Are Ruining the Economy”. Where does your average e-mail length land?
3. You’re Not a Nobody
Too often we lead into conversations trying to legitimize ourselves, our experiences, or our ‘ask’. This insecurity is generally responsible for our wordiness. You don’t need to prove anything. Start with a simple, gracious connection and then be straight-forward. People are surprisingly open to help.
4. Be Informed
Have you done you’re homework? My LinkedIn profile is just a click-away, so if you setup coffee and ask what I do…I’m going to be annoyed. But if you ask specifics, like the pros and cons of working in a for-profits or not-for-profit, I’m game. A successful connection requires work on the front-end.
5. Be On Time
There’s actually a strategy on when to send e-mails. You know that famous book, “Don’t Check E-mail In The Morning”? (It supposedly saps your creative energy for ‘important’ work). Well….NOBODY DOES THAT. My recommendations -
Send on Sunday – lots of people check e-mail on weekends. But fewer people send them. Smartphones have made this a near certainty, so you have a great shot at getting attention. If not, your note is still in line for an early Monday read.
Send at 6:00am – In the morning, people are fresh, enthusiastic and enjoying their coffee. The mood is right. Plus your e-mail is at the top of the inbox. Despite all the advances of productivity software and GTD philosophy, most of us open Outlook, start at the top and work our way down through the unread messages. You want to be near the top. By the afternoon, e-mails have stacked up, projects are underway, meetings are happening and the mood is darkening. Don’t send then.
6. Proofread. Please.
Please, please, please, read your e-mail before you send it. How many golden opportunities are sabotaged by spelling and grammar? There is a HUGE difference between -
Let’s go eat, Grandpa.
Let’s go eat Grandpa.
7. Return The Favor
Successful connection is a cycle that depends on the graciousness of people to respond. The next time you get an e-mail or call, do what you can to help. This keeps the momentum going. We need each other, so pay it forward, and there will always be someone to help you when you need it.
QUESTION: What other best-practices have you learned? Any big ones I’ve missed?