How to ask?

During a coaching session I was asked how to properly ask someone for a phone conversation.

The context of this question was that this person wanted to reach out to specific people in larger organizations in order to simply have a phone conversation with them, not necessarily to sell to them, but for research.

This is cold outreach and lets be honest with ourselves here and just call it like it is, it’s spam. It’s unsolicited communication, even if it can add value to the recipient by making it you focused.

In the post-GDPR and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation era, we live in us, as businesses we have to adjust and be respectful of a recipient’s privacy that a lot of businesses hadn’t in the past.

With that in mind, nothing really has changed other than shortcuts that businesses used to essentially carpet bomb an email list with a broadcast is now closed off.

By now, you’ve heard that when performing outreach of any kind, you should be doing it in a way that makes the recipient feel like it is a direct email to them specifically, even if it’s not.

Avichal Garg, the Managing Partner at Electrical Capital and an Expert at Y Combinator, posted a thread on Twitter on this very topic.

As someone who essentially gets asked many many many times a day for things, it’s refreshing to see his input on how to do it.

I wanted to share a couple of points from his 10 that I find interesting.

Offering Context

Letting the recipient know who you are and if there are any contacts you share in common. If you met somewhere, jog that person’s memory. Doing this quickly before anything works best. If they recognize the connection, they’ll more likely continue reading.

Be Precise

Get to the point quickly, but be as specific about what you are asking for. Don’t make it vague. In Avichal’s tweet, he gives a perfect example, one that I know you can relate to. “Can we get on a call?” is bad. No one will want to jump on a call with someone who they’ve never heard from before.

But “I am performing research in your industry. Here are 2 questions about your website and how it helps your business.” is good. Avichal offers up these 2 examples as “great.” “Do you know person X and could you forward the following blurb to them?” and “I am applying to YC. Does our application make it clear what we build?”

Be Gracious

Remember that whole respectful thing I mentioned early, well be gracious too. If they don’t respond, don’t bombard them every day for a week. That’s only going to make them annoyed and ignore you more, maybe block you or report you as spam.

Follow up a week later, then maybe a month after that. If you haven’t heard anything, stop emailing.

Chances are good that if they can help and/or have the time to help, they will immediately upon reading the email.

One final thought

“If you talk, or you do something, you have to have something to bring.” is something that Gary Vaynerchuk said in a recent video of his.

Say what you will about Gary, this statement aligns directly with asking for any sort of help or sale.

We know Gary is a talker and he loves nothing more than to hear himself talk. He said this specific quote when sharing a story about a meeting he had at Google with the president of Cuba and Twitter and other major players in the tech space.

He had it in his mind to share a story going into the meeting but then thought better of it in the context of the meeting because it didn’t add anything to the meeting. He walked away from that meeting without ever saying a word.

Asking someone for something, who you don’t know and they have no clue you even exist is a fine art. There’s no one formula that works. The only thing that I can say is to think about you as the recipient and how you would feel about getting your outreach.

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