Our new From the Vault series examines episodes from The Art of Charm’s past more deeply; we invite you to revisit them — or discover them for the first time — with us. This first foray finds us gleaning email dos and don’ts from networking master Ramit Sethi.
Episode 399: Cold Truths About Networking and Success with Ramit Sethi was recorded in March 2015 and was a relaxed deep dive by Jordan and Ramit into lessons in networking. Given the sheer amount of email that these men receive on a daily basis, it was no surprise to hear them give thoughtful and cogent tips on those email interactions almost right away. But before that, Ramit set the stage by explaining that when any of us start out, we don’t have access to billionaires and their corresponding networks. What we should focus on is delivering value to those at our level and one level higher. As we deliver for those people and gradually move up levels, we should bring our own network along, and as such, our network will inevitably grow larger and more powerful. With that caveat in mind, here are some email Dos and Don’ts from the episode.
Email Dos and Don’ts
Do put yourself in the mindset of a busy person — think about how your recipient may receive your email at the time you are sending it. Make it easy for them. For example, “Jordan, here’s an article that agrees/contradicts with the episode/blog you recently did. In particular, paragraph 3. NRN.” (we’ll come back to that acronym later). Before you even send that email making a comment or asking a question, make sure you have gone through absolutely every free resource that the person you are writing to has made available so that you’re not asking a question that has already been answered, hence wasting your recipient’s time and placing yourself into the “that guy/girl” category.
Don’t write something along the lines of “If you’re ever in (your city here) I’d love to get coffee with you.” “No one wants to go out with a rando for coffee,” Ramit retorts. Instead…
Do be thoughtful enough to put together something like “If you’re ever in (your city here), let me know, as I can connect you with this person who makes excellent (food/experience that you like), in particular this one (name) which is (describe it).”
On the fly, Ramit even mapped out a scenario for someone emailing Jordan:
I have enjoyed your work and I’m sure you are working with some very talented video producers. I’d like to be one of those people who helps you, and here’s some of the work I have done (link as needed).
But rather than have you guess at the work I could do for you, I’ve touched up some of your videos here (provide link).
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
You’ve done three things in this email: you’ve a) paid respect to Jordan’s time by keeping it short, b) provided proof of your skills, and c) shown that you’re not shooting for the moon; you’re just asking for an opportunity.
Don’t use the “I know this guy you should meet” connecting script. You’re going to need to do better than that. Both Jordan and Ramit agree such exchanges peter out 90% of the time in calendar unavailability land. Don’t be the “cool guy” that “you should meet” and certainly don’t refer such people. Be specific and add value. That gets people excited and engaged to meet new people, and Ramit and Jordan still get excited about meeting people, even people they’ve never heard of before, as long as you can tell them why they should be excited.
Do use the NRN hack. NRN stands for “no reply needed” and relieves your recipient of the mental need to respond. You can place it at the end of whatever correspondence you are sending them. It is considerate and shows you are operating at a higher level than the average email correspondent.
Ramit also shares a story of an encounter with Guy Kawasaki that he said really affected him. Ramit was 24 at the time and was a speaker at a small conference in the Bay Area. Guy was also a speaker there and afterwards Ramit chatted with him and asked, “How do I get more paid speaking gigs, like you have?” Guy looked him up and down (Ramit admits he could have been better dressed at the time — skills one can hone at our bootcamp) and said, “First, get good at something, then you’ll have more gigs than you know what to do with.” Ramit was humiliated, but he took it as genuine advice and a great way to improve.
That story also pairs well with something Ramit says later in the episode in reflecting on his growth in social fluency and skills. He would often talk to people who were ten years older and ask, “What would you tell yourself 10 years ago?” Use their answers as points of analysis for yourself.
Whenever you get told something difficult, you can either dismiss it, deny it, or use the seagull theory to go deeper with what the person is telling you.
“If I just get (famous/influential person) on my (website/podcast) to (endorse me/chat with me) then I will really make it.”
Ramit admits that he has been tempted by this myth in the past, but he points out that it’s not only false, but ultimately it’s not the point. If you consistently are asking the question, “How can I help my audience?” then indeed you will be much further along the path to making it than just by landing “that one whale.”
These are just a few of the things discussed and there’s much, much more of value in this episode, so take a full listen to it here, where you’ll also see links to the three previous appearances of Ramit on the Art of Charm.
This From the Vault post was chosen from our Best Of Series, which you can find here. If this article or episode helped you, please consider writing a review for us on iTunes, because the greatest compliment you can give us is a referral to someone you think would appreciate our content. Now get out there and apply some of these networking skills and lessons — and leave everyone better than you found them!