How to Talk to Strangers: Finding the Right Tone for Social Network E-mails

One of the effects of social media is the ability to connect with so many people. We are able to reach out and form connections without regard to time or location. However, as in real life you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Here are two examples of e-mails that were sent to me through my social networks:

Dear Ms. Andrea

It is a great pleasure to be on your friend list with such intellectual and varied expertise. I feel we need to be in touch if not daily basis but at least on weekly basis for enhancement of knowledge with the experiences. Can I look for interactions to share these thoughts?

Have a nice weekend and warm wishes.

OK. Let me get this straight. You noticed that I’m a marketing consultant and you want to pick my brain every week. What’s in it for me? How is this a mutual exchange of knowledge? Plus, I’m so flippin’ busy that I can barely talk to my parents every week. Why are you different? Why should I bother forming a relationship with you? Why, why, why, why, why?

Needless to say, this is an ineffective way to form a relationship. You can’t force it or put boundaries around a new relationship. You have to get me interested first and then if we have chemistry we can choose to meet every week. Baby steps.

Here’s another e-mail that was sent:

Hi Andrea,

I am a proposal manager with a small consulting firm. My clients have been offering me more work than I can handle. I work as part of a tight-night community of consultants, but our current consultants are contracted through August. I would like to expand my network of consultants and was intrigued by your bio. I would really like to talk with you to see if you would have any interest – or know of anyone with the skills and interest – to provide proposal writing services. The pay is exceptional and the work is very much in demand. In most cases, the work can be performed remotely/virtually.

If you are interested, or know someone else who might be, please call me at my home office or e-mail me.

Thank you!

WOW! Of course I’m going to call. The benefits are clearly outlined and there’s a reason I should call. It’s obvious that this person took time to read my profile. I feel special – and obviously will get in touch right away.

When sending e-mails through your social network, keep it:

1. Short – Get to the point of your message quickly so I can easily “get it” and make a decision.

2. Conversational – I don’t want to feel like I’m being “sold.” I want to feel like I’m making a new friend.

3. Beneficial – Focus on what’s in it for me, not what’s in it for you. Give me a reason to reply.

4. Personal – Read my profile and reference specific points to make me feel special.

5. Actionable – How do you want me to get back in touch? Call? E-mail?

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