Approaching People You Don’t Know

15.03.2018 |

Episode #9 of the course Building a network for success by Jordan Thibodeau


“Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” —British Army

Welcome back!

As we learned yesterday, People Funnels are a great way to meet new people and build relationships. But how do we go about reaching out to people you don’t know?


Sloppy Requests

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the dreaded “Let’s get coffee and chat” email. You either don’t know this person or it’s an acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in years. Usually, these emails are sold to us under the pretenses of friendship. You sit down to talk to this person expecting to build a friendship, and then WHAM! The person hits you with a request quicker than Admiral Ackbar can say, “It’s a trap!” You feel used and abused because this Taker (remember Lesson 2?) was hiding his true intentions.

Typically, a Taker’s request looks like this:

Hey, Connie,

My name is Mark. We don’t know each other but I thought we could meet up.

Can we grab coffee and chat?



Mark’s request is sloppy due to three reasons:

1. Mark has a hidden agenda. Mark didn’t explain in his email that he is trying to meet Connie under false pretenses. If Connie sets up the meeting, Mark will ask Connie for a favor in person, which will anger Connie because she thought Mark had a genuine interest in her research.

2. Mark is assuming Connie has time to meet in person. What Mark is actually asking for is Connie’s valuable time without considering her needs. Her needs could be precious time with her kids, time spent on a passion project, or just time to unwind.

3. Mark is providing Connie little-to-no value. Before I make a request of someone I don’t know, I ask myself, “What can I give?” (Review the Connector’s Toolbox from Lesson 2 for ideas). If I can’t determine what the person needs, getting what I want now depends on the person’s goodwill and charity, and the odds of my message receiving a reply plummets.


Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

The number-one thing Mark should have done is be honest with himself and Connie. From there, Mark should have done more research before reaching out to her. The best ways of going about this are:

1. Research Connie on the internet. He should have reviewed Connie’s body of work on the internet and tried to understand her thought process.

2. Determine how you can help Connie. Often, Connie (as a well-known person or semi-successful person) has to make trade-offs on what meetings she agrees to and which ones she cancels. Is there a way Mark can help Connie?

3. Ask for an introduction to Connie. As research has shown, an introduction from a mutual friend will boost Mark’s credibility, and Connie will be more willing to help Mark. Before asking for an intro, Mark needs to determine how the introduction to Connie is beneficial for her and the mutual connection.

If Mark can’t find anyone to introduce him to Connie, he needs to send out a cold email/message.To increase his odds of an email response, the email preferably should be no longer than 75-100 words. The email should be so easy to read and answer, Connie can act on it within five minutes.

There’s no guarantee Connie will reply, but by showing that Mark respects Connie’s time and his question is easily answerable, he has dramatically increased his odds of hearing back.


Pre- and Post-Meeting Preparation

Now, let’s say Connie agrees to meet with Mark. What should he be doing before and after the meeting?

Pre-meeting work. Mark should review what he wants to talk about with Connie so the conversation doesn’t drift. He should think of no more than three critical things he wants to accomplish during the meeting, so he can stay on track during the conversation, but Mark shouldn’t make the conversation seem robotic, as it’s better to let the interaction flow naturally.

CRITICAL: During the conversation, Mark should learn more about what Connie needs, so he can apply the Connector’s Toolbox. Mark don’t want this relationship to become transactional, because those relationships don’t last.

Post-meeting work. Mark should open his Network Tracker to take notes and track tasks:

• What were his key takeaways from the meeting?

• Did Connie assign Mark any tasks, or did he promise he was going to do something for her (check out X, go read Y)?

• Did Mark send Connie a thank you note for her time?

Tomorrow is our final lesson! But don’t fret, we will learn the importance of saying thank you.

Jordan Thibodeau

Networking Mentor


Recommended reading

Seven Tips for Getting More Responses to Your Emails (with Data!)


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