I received the email below from a person who recently connected with me on Linkedin. I didn’t know this person myself, but we have several contacts in common, and this person currently does business as a vendor with a reputable company I worked with in the past — so it’s not like I randomly connected with a person of questionable or unknown origin (no princes of Nigeria, etc.) This is a business professional (their title is “Director of Business Development”) who should know better.
And if they recognize this email as their own — at least they’ll know better for the next time!
Here is the very first email the person sent me — their very first impression with a new contact — in all its glory.
Don Hello We do business with [company name with whom I am familiar] and specialize in location based experiential marketing. We creatively engage the consumer and connect brick and mortar to online. Someone said you would be a great guy to connect with. Check us out on facebook by searching for [brand name removed].
[First and last name removed]
Beautiful, isn’t it?
All the line endings, punctuation (or lack thereof) has been copied and pasted as-is.
The Object-Lesson Autopsy
1. You don’t know me.
Don’t spam someone you just connected with such a blatant inwardly focused message. You don’t know me. And until you do, you don’t know how your services might help me.
Why not ask me an engaging question instead?
Why not make an observation about something I posted or mentioned online or that you saw in my profile that made you think your company could be of service?
Why not provide me with a link to some online resource that I might find valuable enough to send you a note of ‘thank you’ in response?
2. Use punctuation. Period.
I don’t care if you’re typing this from your mobile phone or not, use punctuation. Proper line endings would be nice, too. And you probably ought to capitalize brand names like Facebook (especially if your business is touting its online expertise.) I’m more likely to forgive a typo (we’ve all had Autocorrect rear its ugly head in our communiques), but being too lazy to hit the Shift key or add a comma or period is really lame.
3. What’s that buzzing sound?
“Location based experiential marketing”
“Creatively engage the consumer”
“Connect brick and mortar to online”
Where’s the beef?
Stop vomiting up pithy cliches and buzzwords and share a value message I can use. Creatively engage the consumer? You can’t even creatively engage me in a four sentence email, and you were invited in to make this connection. If this is an example of your work, how could possible engage a stranger who won’t give you the time of the day?
Ironically, the real weakness in using buzzwords like these is ultimately highlighted by the fact I removed the company’s name from the email to avoid them further embarrassment. Without their name in place it quickly becomes clear that these words are meaningless! I’m certain that anyone reading this could substitute any corporate name from any industry and still have it read the same way. None of those words or phrases differentiated your company or what you do. It actually made you sound even more generic.
4. Name names.
The person says in their email:
“Someone said you would be a great guy to connect with.”
If you’re going to tell me that someone paid me a compliment — name names! I want to know who to thank (or curse!) for sending you my way.
If you’d actually included the person’s name, you would have gained the initial credibility of the person you mentioned. Not including the name makes me think you really didn’t hear it from a third-party and that you’re simply using it as a feeble reason to connect.
The best way to use a third-party introduction is to actually have that person reach out to connect with me personally, and ask me to get together for coffee because they have someone that I have GOT to meet. Every personal recommendation that I make is done either face-to-face or through what I call a “virtual introduction” which is simply an email with both parties CC’d and my making introductions, personal recommendations, back story on how we met, and a few reasons why I think the two of them should connect. It is an obvious and overt personal introduction with individual reasons of value why the two of them should start-up a conversation together.
5. Don’t make me do your work for you.
Not only are you getting Spam spittle all over me, you want me to actually go out of my way to SEARCH for you on Facebook?
First, Facebook’s search is TERRIBLE. It’s likely I’ll spend 10 minutes trying to find you, and I’ll actually find some other company with a similar name.
Second, how about you just take two seconds to paste the silly link in your email?
Third, Your Facebook link should be included in the Contact Info portion of your Linkedin profile (which theirs is not.)
We all get way too many emails
That means it’s even more important than ever to make sure yours is received in the best light and is created with the intent to make a great first impression and drive a desired action by the reader.
My guess is that this person wanted me to reach out to them and respond to their email in some way, but it’s a mystery to me because the only real call to action I see is the invite to conduct a scavenger hunt for their Facebook page.
Posting an autopsy of their email fail probably isn’t the reaction or response they wanted — but it’s definitely the one they needed.