We’ve all gotten emails we send straight to the trash.
But when you’re reaching out to a new professional or personal connection, you don’t want that to happen to yours.
On Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, Flynn asked business and publicity strategist Selena Soo, “What are some things that one shouldn’t do when it comes to reaching out to their influencers and people they want to connect with?”
Soo said that the mistakes she sees all fall under one umbrella: failing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
She used the example of a dinner she arranged for Flynn, who was visiting New York City, as an example:
“I saw in your newsletter that you mentioned, ‘I’m going to be in town to speak at a conference, and I might have time to meet up with some readers.’ I just thought, ‘That’s great. It’s so exciting that you are in town and that you do want to meet up with people, but it would probably be harder for you to meet up with people one-on-one. What if I created a party with tons of people that you would want to connect with, including your existing friends?'” I kind of put myself in your shoes versus being like, ‘Hey, Pat. Meet with me.'”
The failure to put yourself in the other person’s shoes can be particularly obvious via email. Soo, who has been on both sides of the computer screen, said some of the biggest mistakes people make are:
Sending a lengthy missive instead of a short note
Soo said that when people send a cold email, they’re typically excited, and feel like their message is the “one shot” they have to get in touch with this person. That mentality can lead to lengthy missives in which they say everything they have ever wanted to say to the person they admire. That leaves the recipient in a tough spot.
“It’s not uncommon for people to send very long emails, emails that maybe are 13 paragraphs long, that have got multiple questions and ideas in them,” Soo said. She continued:
“One person sent me an email that was super long like that. I was in the middle of a launch, and I had a couple hundred of people who wrote to me. I really do try my best, even at this stage, to write back to every single person personally. It’s really coming from me.
“Every email’s different, but I was not obviously able to match the 13 paragraph email. My email was quite short. The person wrote back and was really angry at me. She was like, ‘Clearly you didn’t even read my email.’ I just kind of explained, ‘I did read your email. I appreciate it, but …’ I had to explain that.”
Failing to be thoughtful, and therefore memorable
No matter how close you feel to the author of the newsletter you’ve received for the past two years, you aren’t friends. “I’ve had situations where someone would write to me like we’re best friends,” Soo said. “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ I type in their name and I see that they have sent me several emails, but their emails were one-word things like, ‘Great webinar,’ or, ‘Love it.’ It’s so nice to hear that, but at the same time they’re not making themselves remembered by us, so that’s another key thing to really keep in mind.”
Asking for something that doesn’t make sense
While you might be reaching out with a compliment or information, let’s be honest — there’s a good chance you want something. “I think it’s really important to consider the kind of request you’re asking for,” Soo said. She continued:
“If you’re asking someone for a testimonial, put yourself in their shoes. Does it make sense for them to give you a testimonial? I’m sure everyone would like a testimonial from someone super famous, but if they don’t know you that well, they have just had a couple of interactions or you just happen to be a student, it’s going to be hard for them to endorse your work, because then theoretically every single student in their program could ask for a testimonial.
“If you’re someone who has been a service provider, or a coach to them, or you’ve helped them with a significant project, that may be appropriate. You have to first think about, ‘Is it even appropriate for me to ask for this particular thing at this time?'”
Seeming like you can’t handle a refusal
More than anything, Soo said, you want to make the recipient feel comfortable. And that comes down to the language you use. “You want to come off as that you’re not overly attached to the outcome, which you shouldn’t be,” she said. “Maybe it’s something like, ‘Hey. I just wanted to run the idea by you,’ and then kind of run the idea and see if they’re interested or not versus, ‘Can you do this?’ Or, ‘What do you think about this?’ I find that even those small tweaks make a really big difference.”
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