Our reading assignments for our Week 8 WOL circle included:
- PSA: Email introduction etiquette
- 3 LinkedIn email responses for invitations to connect
- How this guy can get people to read his emails
As we discussed each article, it was eye-opening how often common courtesies and empathy fall by the wayside in our efforts to get through our to do list.
In our circle each of us have reached out to people in our network to solicit their assistance for one of our circle members. In almost every case, we copied the person we wanted to assist. Thankfully, in every case people who were contacted were more than happy to share their expertise. However, we did all recognize that not allowing them the opportunity to “opt in” didn’t show much respect for their time. In essence we were shifting an obligation from out to do list to someone else’s.
Unsolicited LinkedIn Requests
It was interesting that each of us had a different approach to unsolicited LinkedIn connection requests. Some people were happy to accept the request. Some just ignored requests from people they hadn’t connected with previously. And some took an intermediate approach. If the person’s profile looked reasonable, they were more likely to accept the request but ignore others where there was limited information available on the profile. Once we figured out a way to respond to those requests, we agreed it would be better to take Helen Blunden’s approach and ask what had prompted someone to send a connection invitation.
After our meeting I sent responses to just over 20 people who had sent me connection invitations where I hadn’t responded. So far I have received 8 responses back. Two people essentially told me not to bother accepting their request. That tells me that these are not the kind of people I want to add to my network. On the other hand I have received 6 very interesting responses that have provided me with the opportunity to get to know someone new and where I can see true value in establishing not just a connection but a relationship with this person.
One of the key lessons I have learned during my WOL journey is that it truly is the relationships that matter. So if I do decide to add someone to my network, I want to feel as if I have something I can offer to them. I want them to be more than just one more name I add to my list. What does it matter if I can boast about having X number of LinkedIn connections if there are no real underlying relationships.
Interestingly all of us had the same reaction to the article about how to get people to read your e-mails. While we do appreciate the points about empathy, building rapport, and selling free, that it seemed a bit much and we would be unlikely to read that whole message if it came from someone we didn’t know. As people who have to sift through many, many e-mails a day, demonstrating empathy and consideration is definitely appreciated, but it’s also important to get to the point.
The other key point we felt was missing from the article is probably the most important thing when trying to get someone who doesn’t know you (or sometimes even someone who does) to open your email – the subject. Those of us with already overflowing inboxes, have to prioritize which e-mails we open first or sometimes which ones we open at all. With unsolicited messages from someone I don’t know, the bar is much much higher – especially with my personal e-mail which can accumulate lots of messages that I delete without ever opening. So, it doesn’t matter how well written the e-mail may be, if the subject doesn’t catch my interest, that message may never be read. I’d be very interested if anyone has suggestions on how to craft interesting subject lines for e-mail messages.
Still On Course
After 8 weeks, I’m pleased to say that our circle is still all together and still engaged. We have all had some minor challenges with competing priorities but I think having a week off allowed everyone to get caught up again. I think when I do my next circle, I may suggest taking a week off at some point after week 6. The goal is to have this be an enjoyable experience rather than just one more responsibility.
I’m also encouraged by the number of people who have mentioned taking what they are learning and practicing in our circle and applying these techniques to other areas of their work and personal interests. I think we are all seeing the benefits of working out loud and building relationships that matter.