This is a targeted post (written with an intent and for a targeted audience). Like everyone else, I get a lot of messages/inmails on linkedin, and most of the times, they don’t account to anything. And that is fine. But the nature of those conversations has forced me to create a Do’s and Dont’s list.
I have somehow gotten too used to Medium, and use it for practically everything — even to create FAQ pages for the current business. So it made sense that I would write about this as well on Medium itself.
When it comes to LinkedIn messages or emails, I have two general thumb-rules:
I am typically more responsive — most of the times, the same day. But I respond. Always. And if I am late, I would offer my apologies. (Yes, they are sincere)
Now, because of these rules of, I feel I end up wasting a lot of my time. So I decided it was time to make a PACT with everyone who sends me such a message.
You don’t take the time out to read this, I won’t take the time out to respond to that (may not even read).
Most of the communications can be broadly classified into these few categories. You can find the category that’s most relevant to yours and follow the Do’s and Dont’s pertaining to you. There are some general rules as well. Let’s start with them.
Assume I have had an amazing fulfilling weekend (may not have been relaxing, but you can bet your ass it would have been fulfilling). So, let’s skip the niceties, shall we?
How do you think I will respond if you ask me “How am I doing?”
Even if I am having the crappiest day of them all, I am sure as hell not going to tell them to someone I am just hearing from for the first time in my life.
Hell, my girlfriends have told me I don’t share my problems with them. What makes you think I will share them with you? So don’t waste your words and my time — just because social behaviour and some professional etiquette guru recommends you should be nice.
Get to the point, and fast. Actually start with the point. Saves me the pain of opening up the LinkedIn app to read your message. I can see the point in the preview in my mail and understand what is it you want and how prompt should my response be.
I don’t care whether you are reaching out as a vendor or just need some advice — keep it short.
Since short is quite vague, let me put a limit to it. Keep it shorter than 48 words. You can use this tool to access the length of your message.
Tip: If you think it would be impossible to keep it less than 48 words, you need to rethink your strategy. You need to rethink what’s important and what’s not. You need to rethink your intent. Basically, get back to the drawing board. Remember, we don’t know each other right now, so maybe — just maybe — there is no point in including your skype id, phone number, long email address, landline number, fax number, date of birth of your first-born, and details on your bowel movement. Doesn’t that make sense?
I wanted to discuss something…blah blah blah… So I was wondering if we could have a short call to… blah blah blah… Please reply with your number and convenient time, or you can call me on xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Don’t be that guy!
You are already communicating with me. This message I received is proof of that. Instead of trying to reel me in over the call — which in most of the cases won’t happen, I assure you — why not make your point here itself?
I simply hate whatsapp messages and mails where the other person takes up 5 mins and a few back and forth communications just to say “I wanted to get some time in a face-to-face. Had to discuss a few things… Whenever you are free”.
Yeah. Thanks for nothing! That really cleared things up. You could have used that same time to make your point. And btw, I was free enough to read your messages, give quick replies. Maybe if you had just talked about what you wanted to talk about, you would have had your answer by now.
If I feel you had a template message (saved from ten years ago — which it feels like most of the times), that you just started sending everybody, you lost my interest. If you couldn’t take the time out to send me a clean, clear and meaningful mail, what makes you think I would even feel bad about simply ignoring it.
And I do feel bad if I am even late in responding to a genuine query.
Btw. No. Changing John Doe with my name and Company X with the name of my firm does not make it a personalised message. That is customised, not personalised. Subtle difference; get familiar with it.
Persistence and perseverance are qualities I greatly admire.
I admire laxatives as well. They help you get your bowel movement back on track when — let’s just say — your body just wants you to know how much God hates you.
That doesn’t mean I am fine with laxatives being a staple in my routine. Without context all meaning is lost.
And it is no different when it comes to persistence. Context is the key.
What are you persistent about?
Are you persistent about
Why are you sending me the same templated mail every 2 weeks? If it didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the tenth time as well. Actually it would. I would get fed up one day and simply exercise my blocking rights. I have done it in past, and I am not above exercising that fundamental right again.
Yes. These two emails are from the same guy. Would you respond?
I did. “No solicitations please.”
So. What should persistence look like?
Take interest in who the person is — in this particular case, Me. Strike conversations. Find out what the other person may want to talk about and talk about that. If that is nowhere close to what your expectations are, tough! But be subtle in your sales pitch.
Anyone would still identify your sales pitch, but they will admire your approach.
For example. You are a web dev agency? Don’t pitch your services to me unless you know whether or not development is a pain point for me. Sure, it is a pain point for many, so even with the wrong approach, you will be more right than wrong. But so will 5,000 other agencies that mail me every year. Maybe I already have a tech team. That doesn’t mean I don’t need your services. That just means I am not in dire need of it. Or maybe I am, because my devs have been striking out on this particular module. You won’t get to know the right way to pitch your services to me unless you get to know me better. And you won’t get to know me better by sending me a sales deck.
Nobody tells the guy at the counter at McDonalds how their day has been like.
That would be weird.
But when I order a double whiskey — Neat — the bartender asks me “Tough day?”. Yeah. Sometimes that’s enough for me to pour my heart out.
Now, as promised, coming to the nature of mails.
If you are sending me a message, chances are, your messages falls into one of these categories.
Few things worthy of highlighting:
If you are looking for a job (with experience less than 2 yrs) or an internship, don’t worry about any of this.
It would be great if you follow these practices. Even if you slip up, its okay. You’ve got time to learn. There is just one rule that you need to follow — appreciate the other person’s time (or the lack of it). So be crisp, clear and concise in your communication.
If you are looking for a job and have 2+ yrs of experience, treat it the same as the B2B sales strategies.
Have fun! Let’s chat. Humans, bots — really doesn’t make much difference to me.