Have you recently had one of those days, where you have enough down time to be able to consciously watch what comes into your email inbox, your LinkedIn inbox, your Facebook messenger or IG inbox, and maybe found yourself getting that little rush of excitement when you see a message from someone, or several people, you’re genuinely super excited to be engaging with. But then have you had that moment, where you scroll through those several to several dozen others and find yourself either titling your head and pulling a confused face, as you:
a) try to work out the secret cryptic hidden meaning behind what on earth someone really wants who just asked you to meet u for a coffee
b) found yourself puling the same face, maybe now with a mild note of annoyance too, at the one in which someone has just sent you a single link to something, with barely an explanation as to why they’ve sent it to you, or in what context they envision you being a part of it (IF they’ve even thought about it that much) or
c) getting a little bit excited seeing who another message just came from, but then, as you read it, feeling that sinking feeling in your gut, as you realise deep down, that person could’ve used that opportunity to send you something that so much better honoured the true nature of the growing connection you have between each other. But instead, they sent you, well, THAT….whatever THAT was, and now you feel a little sad for the loss of the awesome moment that could’ve been?
Do you feel me? For me, with over 20 years of front facing, Client Relationship building experience, I have come to have a very deep respect for inboxes, in the same way that I do for temples, in that I consider both equally sacred space. If I’m hoping to get into one, I better have a clear “yes” on the matter first, and show up with heart and authenticity, plus you bet I’ve thought long and hard about the appropriateness of what I’m intending to bring into one. Hands up if you’ve found yourself wishing at least once lately that people would treat YOUR inbox with a similar level of respect?
Wether it's someone you might one day have a business relationship with, or someone you already do, that moment of time we ask for when we engage someone's inbox is a gift. So what does it actually look like when we show up to that moment with an email or message that’s worthy of the kind of connection that might turn out to last a lifetime, as opposed to a message that reminds them that they're just another number on your list of 200 to contact today?
In the spirt of bringing a little sacredness back to the inbox space, what I wanted to do this week was share a reminder of a few things I've consistently found myself doing/saying in my online communications over the years, that help create a genuine foundation for future engagement, starting from a place of respect and reverence for the actual person on the receiving end of that inbox and the soul-contract or contracts before me that i’d really like to honor and nurture in the process (if you believe in that kind of thing.) Please note, this is not to be used as a script, so much as 3 points to use as inspiration.
1. Show some sign that you have a genuine interest in the other person. Make the time to care.
Any and every written communication you ever write, wether it’s a job cover letter, for a potential client or joint venture partner, or a DM introducing yourself and your Practice or Business on LinkedIn for the first time, should always, always include a brief explanation of why you’e chosen this person or organisation of all people.
On FB or any social platform with a chat messenger (designed for brief quick sentence interaction, not slabs of text) that might start with a question that references it; if they found your event or your group, that’s:
"Hey, I saw that you’re interested in an event that I’m running” and asking if they need a hand to register or have any questions, BEFORE you delve deeper with an acknowledgement of what interests you and open questions delving further.
But for all, sometimes it might start or continue with a reference to something you just found in their profile or website that is the reason you’re writing….
Before you ever get onto you and your offer or an invitation. It’s about finding and connecting based on all you have in common.
Or, one of my absolute favourite "verbal love language" ways of showing that I genuinely care about people I already know, that I’m touching base with is to ask them a question that refers to a detail from when I last saw or interacted with the person in question.
However you do it, it can’t be contrived or copied from a script, you have to reach within to find it, and it has to be authentic. It's about creating continuity and continuing to connect on your common ground.
As it relates to work, if you speak to so many people that you struggle to remember the little details like this, this is where i draw upon my Counselling/Community Services/NGO background, in which we had to case note every tiny detail of interactions in our organisational case notes with a religious level of diligence, and:
Set up your Client Relationship Management systems so that every person who ever has a touchpoint with clients is recording this kind of info back into Salesforce, or Hubspot, or Cliniko or at minimum, a shared Excel or Numbers spreadsheet, so that, at any time, any single one of you, can go into a client's file and pick up exactly where the last person left off. When it comes to business, THAT to me, is A Level, gold star Customer Service.
2. Be clear in sharing your intention in why you want to connect and be direct in your offer or invitation of further engagement
Especially if this is someone new you want engage with for a specific purpose
Be brave and be honest about exactly why you want to connect.
Remember you may well have been reading their posts for a while, or have been ongoingly seeing their content in your feed, or seen them around in groups, so you might already have a clear idea in your head of how you could help or how you could work together.
It's wise though not to assume that the person you’re contacting automatically gets it or sees it in the same way as you do though, or knows how you feel. No matter how intuitive or good at reading people we might or might not be, they never know for sure that there really IS something to some resonance they feel, until they hear it confirmed from you, in words.
And likewise, where some degree of an invitation may be involved to something you offer, don’t leave it to them to do the detective work, or telepathically figure it out, by just sending a link or an invite to something without any form of additional explanation, or even just with a “love to connect” or love to have coffee.
As point no 2, make sure you also include a sentence or two that is brief, but direct in providing an invitation to engage further.
By the time someone is done reading your communication, you want them to be really clear, why this would be mutually aligned and beneficial, why it might be mutually desirable and you want them to know exactly how the next step looks and what they have to do if they want to engage with you further.
And for bonus points, remember too, for busy people, it’s good to succinctly make it clear why you’re connecting too, so that, in the precious amount of time both parties have in life, they can make a decision up-front as wether they want to be involved with that, or they don’t.
A bit like in dating, business and work dating is no different. Better to put it all out there now, than hang around wishing and hoping and getting emotionally entangled for 6 months and THEN put it all on the line and get rejected because things with the two of you never were quite aligned.
Be brave and be up front now, so that you both get the chance to align with people that are genuinely the best fit and genuinely care and can thus both have the opportunity to invest your energy (and your giant hearts) in the most soulfully aligned places, at the right time.
3. Always Include a gratitude
If it didn’t already tumble out in the above 2 points somewhere, or especially if it’s somebody you’re already connected with, don’t forget to acknowledge OFTEN the very reasons you’re there in the first place and if you can, sign off with a gratitude.
Try to always make sure you put some gratitude in there any time you want to nurture the relationship and show that you are authentically interested and genuinely care. Along with any invitation for engagement or expression in the desire to connect further.
Especially too, for, say, potential clients, when they commit in some way or do respond (even if they're not quite ready yet to go the whole way) be present, or make sure you have a staff member at least on your behalf, be fully present, in a timely manner, with gratitude and a little genuine enthusiasm and happiness that they're engaging.
And especially if you feel like things have been getting distant with someone you've partnered with in the past or want to partner with again in the future, and that distance might be for the wrong reasons (like i got way to busy, or i dropped the ball on something at one point and probably would to do well to show up and give a little extra TLC)… sharing something like:
with the person every once in a while, with no other agenda than the authentic gratitude you genuinely just felt in that moment and the heart centred intention to brighten someones day a little, goes a long way on your part, to give the kind of connection you want to last a lifetime the attention it deserves.
Wether its personal or professional, if you want people to like and grow to trust you just a little bit more, it’s good to include some genuine touch points every now and then that have no agenda and give more than you expect to get too.
"Just wrote this thing/just created this meme/just found this article, thought you might like it/or it might be relevant to that project we talked about” as some examples.
By the end of this whole engagement, provided that this genuinely IS someone you authentically want more to do with (Maybe it's just my one part my Counselling ethics training and another part my values talking, but i'm not sure why you would keep emailing them if they’re genuinely not?) you want the person to walk away feeling well aware why you chose them of all people and feeling deeply honoured in that, rather than them feeling like just another number you throw a fishing line at with a sinker and a baitless hook at, e.g. the minimal possible investment of effort on your part and praying that it hooks, which is honestly, the way people feel when people send them some generically written obvious script, or just some link with barely an explanation as to why them. People aren’t silly, they know.
So if you genuinely, really do want to work or engage further with them, make sure you and your staff treat their inbox as sacred space, respect the opportunity to say anything within it as sacred, and treat them with the love and respect they deserve and you would want to receive into yours in return.
If you have any questions or would like some suggestions on how to do that, and you feel like I could help you figure them out, authentic engagement is one of my loves. You can email connect with me, or find a time for us to chat here.
For now, thanks for reading, it’s much appreciated, hope you got loads of value out of it and I look forward to chatting again soon.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.