Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to get bigwigs to answer emails

Bigwig is a great term, isn't it?

Anyhow, Adam Grant posted a story on LinkedIn that was picked up by Government Executive on how to get people to pay attention to your emails. He got interested in this because people would not answer his.

First, he suggests, pay attention to the subject line. When people are busy, this means a subject line about what's in it for them--utililty.

Grant lists some he got from strangers:

•Appealing to the recipient's curiosity: “Advice for a fellow teleological people-person,” “I do not want anything from you,” “Your book kept me up all night,”

•Utility: “Applying your techniques to recovering addicts” and “Getting you to Atlanta”

Second, tell them why you chose them. Grant got a lot of requests that had nothing to do with his expertise. Those won't be opened.  He says: Good emails overcome this barrier by highlighting what drew you to this person and the distinctive value that he or she can add. It’s worth devoting a sentence or two to what you know about the person’s work, and how it has influenced your life.

Third, show that you’ve done your homework. A sizeable number of readers wrote Grant asking for links to articles that were freely available on my public website. The psychologist Bernard Weiner has found that people are more motivated to help those who try to help themselves.

Fourth, highlight uncommon commonalities. I felt a stronger connection to strangers who emphasized something unusual that we had in common. As the psychologist Robert Cialdini sums up the evidence from Influence, “Similarity literally draws people together.”

Make your request specific, and keep it short and sweet.

And last, express gratitude. Grant's least favorite emails made demands instead of expressing appreciation. One person wrote, “We should definitely meet,” and another implored, “Please answer this question.”

Personally, I find that a snappy, "creative" headline sends emails to the Spam Filter.

I know, I am a Grinch. But I am also trying to reach some people on H'wood who make a specialty of never being reachable. Well, nifty for them!

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