Ah, from a chance glance at a tweet in my timeline to the computer keyboard. Yes, dear readers, inspiration can come from anywhere.
And as I was once again asked this past week for a “brain picking” coffee date, a reminder: such requests are not helpful. I’ve mentioned this before and fear, I will on this particular networking request soapbox for some time.
First off. There is NO such thing as a quick “20-minute” coffee (unless you’re already standing in-line at Starbucks waiting for your latte and the barista’s latest misspelling of your name). As serial entrepreneur and investor Peter Shankman notes in a recent blog post, a “20-minute” coffee in reality is a 2-hour commitment. Yup, that’s how a busy person interprets your request for coffee and a chat.
Don’t let “time zapper” be the first impression you make with someone who may just want to help you.
Second, thing, I’m not looking to be difficult or harbor grandiose notions of myself. IN fact, it’s precisely the opposite. I pride myself on helping others find answers. So make it easy for me to help you – ask the real question you’re seeking answer to in your email. I can answer a direct, well thought-thru, considered question – and I’ll answer it in a way that works for me! I may suggest a call to give you answer or could say “I have no friggin clue, so why not try….” or I might even direct you to another resource (print, person, platform) for the answer. NONE of which requires coffee – and DO result in answers (which is what you REALLY want).
Third, a well, thought-thru, considered question is a researched one. Remember that thing called the internet? As Jessica Peltz-Zatulove says quite clearly in her #BYDN interview (on the matter of cold emailing someone): “If a busy person is taking the time to put their thoughts online in a blog post, the subject matter probably is important to them, so read it all!” And in reading it all you might just find the answer you are seeking.
The #BYDN bottomline?
You’ll get more of what you need by being respectful of the other person’s time (as much as valuing their expertise, reputation, accomplishments, know-how, opinion etc.). Take some time before you jump in with an ask that involves time.
As I say in #BYDN:
“Invest the time—not only will your connections thank you, they’ll invest more time in helping you reach your goal too.”
Flip open your copy of Build Your Dream Network #BYDN. If you’re struggling to craft the perfect “cold” email, read Jessica’s career networking roadmap at page 59. If you’re wondering how to “pick the brain” of talented co-workers whose know-how you need to absorb, hop over to Joe Styler’s story at page 75.