I’ve been traveling a great deal lately and as it happens, when I travel, emails pile up quicker. Important emails from family, things I need to read, emails from my team and then quite a few “Hey, I’d love to pick your brain” OR “Do you have time for coffee?” type emails.
Look, we all do it and I’m certainly no celebrity or global dignitary, but what I AM is extremely focused (or at least I try hard to be) and very busy. So here’s the issue… If I don’t know you, or you are a friend of a friend or an ex-classmate, that does not (unfortunately) mean I have the ability to prioritize a “coffee” with you.
Sound crass? Consider that 99% of startups fail. Consider that there are only 24 hours a day and I am a very committed father and husband who also wants to move the needle in both business and philanthropy… while never missing a Donuts with Dad or Indoor Soccer Match… that takes about 25 hours a day. I’m all about making it matter.
So here’s the point… When you email someone you probably have a good idea to run by them… Maybe an opportunity you believe they’ll benefit from or something really rare, cool, unique, etc… So you have to tell them. Be very specific and start with the WHY… why should they care? Why should they take the meeting? Why should they invest, leave their job, fly to your city, join your board, etc…
There is also sometimes a “gap” between what is meaningful to people… To some people $1000 is a fortune, to others it’s not worth a phone call (it’s all relative). Realize a seasoned entrepreneur may want/expect founder level equity to advise you or sit on your board (they have a reputation that carries big value, and is risky for them)… So do some homework and try to have a point of view on what moves the needle for them (sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s equity… maybe it’s free technology, support of a favorite charity or an opportunity for their child… just make it matter).
So here’s my formula:
1. Tell them “what” in one sentence
2. Tell them WHY they should/would consider it
3. Give them actionable next steps
4. Suggest a time-frame
5. Thank them.
Mac, We’ve done our homework on you and believe you would make a perfect addition to the Acme.com, Inc. board of advisors.
We would be willing to make it worth your time by providing founder level equity in a startup that seems to fit your interests and also give you free use of our technology services (plenty of details to follow, but wanted you to know we are serious).
If this sounds interesting, please review our video (here) and our attached presentation. I think you will find it compelling and will agree there is a great fit. I would like to meet next week (how about Tuesday for lunch) to provide you a demo, and answer any questions you may have. Would that work?
Thanks for your time and consideration. Our board has already approved our adding you, should you decide to proceed with us. Looking forward to it.
When I get that kind of email (which I rarely do), I react. I may be interested, but either way I am so impressed and appreciative of the research, approach and more than anything the thoughtfulness that allows me to make decisions quickly vs. GUESS at what they may want or even more, guess as to why I should be interested.
Make your emails count.
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