A couple of weeks ago, I gave a presentation about using social media for career management and development to a group of professionals who took the time to come out and connect on a Saturday morning.
We had really good participation and many asked questions throughout the presentation, which makes it interesting and engaging for everyone in the room. A true conversation.
Several attendees followed ups to have more conversations and with LinkedIn invitations, which I usually accept only after a face to face conversation.
Right after the presentation, one person provided such wonderful feedback that I almost wished I was still logged on to ask her if she'd be willing to share it on LinkedIn for everyone to see - feedback is welcome at any time.
And that is why this note I received a few days later really made me stop and read carefully. Notice how much care and interest the author took in writing it so that it would not come across as promotional or self serving in any way. Yet it carries the message across even by making it about the presentation and the morning and not the writer.
Memorable? You bet. [republished with permission]
Subject: Thank you for the dynamic presentation on Saturday, 6/13 @ Villanova
In typical business format, this e-mail would have encompassed just two short paragraphs. However, since you admitted that you write long blogs, and your style is conversational – yes, I found your web site, read some postings and subscribed to the blog – I feel confident that my ramblings are appropriate. Please read on.
While I listened intently during your presentation, I also absorbed a lot of external elements surrounding the brand of you. Allow me to qualify this statement. I’ve spent the bulk of my career in retail, and training and development, and over the years I’ve honed my ability to look at the details to understand the brand. If I visit a retail establishment, I watch what is happening and what isn’t; if I attend a training session or meeting, I sit near the back and observe what people do and when they do it. Interestingly, at Saturday’s presentation, I was 2 rows from the back.
With that said, here are three observations about the brand of you that I jotted down, along with my comments:
- No nonsense, with a smile – you provide information with a grain of salt, and expect that people will adapt it to their own process. In my Mother’s terms, ‘get over it, and if you can’t, go under!”
- Humorous PowerPoint – you don’t take yourself too seriously. Interestingly, this is a great way to put people at ease.
- Extensive speaking – you used the PowerPoint slides as a framework and provided a lot of content behind each slide. AKA, you didn’t read the slides- a presentation nightmare!
Thanks again for an inspiring presentation. I really do appreciate your message and delivery. The session was one of my best Saturday mornings to date.
Brian P. Corcoran
The mentions about his career and experience are contextual to the intent of the email, which was to provide feedback to me. I was sold. This is how you write a marketing communications piece, a pitch letter, any outreach communication that will make an impression.
It wasn't so much the words that were contained in the note - as beautifully flowing as it is. I did admire the syntax and brevity. What I remembered most though was how I felt about it. Because he provided context with the story.
He started with the payoff - this is good news. Framed his state of mind with a very brief history of his conflict - a Saturday, new to the group, did not know what to expect - to resolution. He's done his homework and is matching the style to mine as observed so far. Then the longer description that sets the stage for providing the feedback. Not taking himself too seriously, either he wraps where he started.
Here are some things to think about when you write an email to connect:
- do you have a goal? I'm asking this because sometimes the email I get is just a bland pitch, and there is no clear call to action.
- what do you want the recipient to do? That would be the call to action.
- how are you going to relate to them? This is the part where people read the blog or learn about the other not just so that they can propose appropriate content, although that works well, but so they can also get the tone right. Relating is key to get to the next one.
- how will your email make them feel? This moves you from just another unknown entity in an inbox to a person who's paid attention. This is not the touchy feeling part, it's the value part, the meaning part.
- where are you going to fit in? Notice how he weaved in his experience as a proof point or qualifier for his remarks.
I believe him when he writes he agonized over writing the email.
I write a lot every day - for the Web, emails, letters, blog posts, articles - and getting the tone right is what makes a piece of communication connect with its intended audience. Tone is as important as content. How you say something is as if not more important than what you say - as a speaker and writer.
What would you have done to connect with a speaker you learned from? Have you written an email that hit the sweet spot in connecting you to someone? What can you teach us about your success? Have you been on the receiving end of a well crafted and relevant email? What made you read on and reply?