When clients tell me that their job search has stalled, often the culprit is expecting others to shoulder the bulk of the work or to be as invested as they are. Most people want to help you, but you’ll always get better results when you do the work for them up front, ensuring your request is something they are uniquely qualified to assist with.
As a job seeker, or any professional looking to be more effective and get more useful responses, become easy to help by doing the following:
1. Send concise, targeted emails. When you include attachments, links, articles or eight paragraphs to review, chances are you’ll receive a delayed response, or possibly none at all. Further, what you include in the email subject line may determine if your message is opened or simply deleted, so use that space wisely (e.g., “Referred by Jerry Petri; Speaker Request for January 4th“). But perhaps most importantly, first determine if an email is even the best medium to use for the request. It’s possible a quick conversation could save a lot of time.
Key point: Make it easy for someone to promptly respond (remember, they may be reading your message on a mobile device).
2. Be thorough. This may seem to contradict #1, but it’s possible to be both thorough and targeted. The trick is understanding the audience and context. If you’re attempting to set up a meeting, send 3 – 4 potentials dates. If you’re asking for a return call, include the phone number and times you’re available. If the person doesn’t know you, include the URL to your LinkedIn profile in the email signature for quick access.
Key point: Put yourself in their shoes and take extra steps to make it easy for them to engage with you.
3. Drive the process. You’re busy, they’re busy, and everyone has different priorities. If you’re asking for something, also be the person who follows up. Your request may be on the top of your list, however, it’s likely not at the top of your contact’s list. Offer to keep in touch, loop back, come to them or take the next step so they don’t have to add another item to their to-do list. If you don’t hear back after an initial contact, ensure you’ve followed points #1 and #2 above, and then reach out once more.
Key point: The easier you make it for someone to help you, the more likely they will, although it may not always be on your desired timeline.
4. Respect their time. Avoid asking for information that is readily accessible, and invest in learning about your contact before you reach out or meet. I’ve had professionals contact me to ask to be a guest on my SiriusXM radio show Career Talk, who had never listened to a single episode. Think about what message this communicates and how likely your request is to be taken seriously.
Key point: If you don’t invest in them first, why should they invest in you? Make their decision to assist a no-brainer (aka, easy).
5. Know what you want. Time is a precious commodity and you’ll have mere moments to convince someone that you’re worth paying attention to. This means that most people will prefer you get straight to the point these days. However, this also means that you must quickly establish credibility, connection and clarity, and it will be painfully obvious if you wing it (see #4). The good news is that it will also be just as obvious if you’ve done your homework and thoroughly prepared. Going the extra mile will be impressive in and of itself. Do your research, know yourself, know your audience and be clear about your ask.
Key point: Make yourself easy to help.
The people who are seemingly “luckier” in getting responses may, in fact, just have a better strategy. They ensure that their request is difficult to ignore. Most people feel good about themselves when they help others, so if you make it simple for them, it’s a win-win.
However, even if you take the time to invest and do everything flawlessly, there will still be some who never respond. When it comes to social interactions, there are guidelines, but no guarantees. Humans are too moody and tempermental to be 100% predictable.
This is where knowledge will be useful, but wisdom in applying that knowledge will be what makes the magic happen. Trial and error may not appeal to you, but if you do nothing, you get nothing. That is a certainty.
Reposted from: Forbes.com