A couple of weeks ago, I needed to contact the CEO of a chocolate company for a business partnership with a company I’m advising.

I sent an email to the CEO and (guess what?) he didn’t get back to me.
I sent him another email, and still, nothing. That’s when I decided to call up the company. An assistant picked up and directly gave me the executive’s number with a 30-minute slot in their calendar. The next day, we were on the phone.

This episode made me reflect on how cold emails are so overrated —especially when they’re sent out as a blast using software or a LinkedIn bot.

Cold emails are not a very effective tool — you send a bunch of random emails and see what sticks. The real appeal is to serve as a buffer from rejection. Let a robot do the work so that you never actually get an email saying no to your request.

Cold email blasts and bots may protect you from rejection, but they also lower your chances of success — you become just another email.

Here are six alternative ways to reach out to any busy people and convince them to give you their attention.

1. Send Them a Friend Request

Sending a friend request on LinkedIn allows you to study the other person’s profile, and they can also get a chance to check out your pedigree. You can send a note with your friend request and then keep in touch through each other’s updates.

LinkedIn requests usually work even better if you have a connection in common; especially if it’s someone you can name in your initial message.

It’s important for your LinkedIn profile to be complete and relevant to your request. This shows that you’re not a bot, and the other person can look at your profile and get a quick understanding of your background.

Reaching out on LinkedIn allowed me to set up a call with a hundred-millionaire CEO to discuss his plans and challenges. I was also able to interview him about a possible mastermind.

He accepted because I reached out on LinkedIn (instead of email). He saw that we had a trusted connection in common and decided to give me 20 minutes of his time on the phone.

2. Reach Out to Your Network

The vastness of social media means that people today are more connected than ever. Yet, they often don’t reach out to their network and say, “Hey, I’m looking to speak to this person.”

Do you know anyone or can you make an intro to anyone? Try to leverage LinkedIn, and use social media to see whether you have a connection in common. Once you establish this, then you can ask for that warm introduction.

Warm introductions are one of the best ways of making you stand out. The common connection validates you and brings your voice out of the crowd.

It’s a novel idea — instead of reaching out to a thousand people via a bot or automation software, just reach out to the ones that you do want to speak to. By communicating in a very specific way and prioritising quality over quantity, we stand out.

3. Send a Letter

I love to send “old-fashioned snail mail” to friends. In fact, it’s a great way to connect with people that are going to be a little more difficult to get in contact with.

I’ve even sent letters to connect to known influencers in the past, sharing with them my progress and how they impacted my life. The “old-fashioned” letter stands out because people recognise the effort. This letter got a response and helped form a connection.

The simple beauty of traditional mail is that we normally don’t do it. It’s also really easy to send a letter and stand out. If you want to reach out to a specific company, just send it to that company’s address.

4. Pick Up the Phone

This really isn’t as obvious as people think. Smartphones have become so powerful that we use them as anything but phones! Using a phone as intended is a great way to stand out.

I’ve already told you the example of the chocolate CEO. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t used this wonderful device for its intended purpose.

In one of my first business projects, we launched a crowdfunding campaign during which I spent a couple of days using my phone and calling the press. Instead of throwing cold email to any kind journalist, I reached out to make a connection. How? I turned to Google and searched for a journalist that had covered similar products.

I would call their headquarters and ask to speak with this person.

A few times I got turned down (rejection happens). Sometimes my hopes were lifted when I was introduced to the journalists — only to learn that they weren’t interested.

I didn’t let the rejection affect me. I continued reaching out, and then I found a journalist who was interested and got an article.

That single article got us 17% of the money that we raised for the entire campaign, which was close to £10,000 (the equivalent of $12,000).

5. Show Up IRL

This is a great way of being direct and showing your intent. Go to their offices and just talk to them; make sure to bring coffee. That’s exactly what I did to talk to Spotify UK’s head of partnerships. After emailing the team twice, I just showed up and checked in for a meeting at reception (wearing a suit). Someone from the partnership team came downstairs to greet me and gave me 15 minutes of feedback on my idea and pitch, and he gave me his personal email to send it to.

Take something with you even if it’s a sketch, presentation, or whatever you want to talk to them about. It’s important to be prepared so you don’t waste their time and you’re ready to go. This will show that you’re determined to succeed and have your ideas organised. Nothing kills an introduction more than asking for a chance only to show you weren’t prepared to be offered it.

6. Provide a Lot of Value Upfront

If you want to connect to someone, do something for them and see how they react; if that leads to a relationship, then you can reach out. This is especially good for grabbing that person’s attention and showing how receptive they are to being approached.

I remember following a webinar by a major copywriter. I took a visual sketch note of what I learned and sent it to him — immediately, he replied to my tweet with interest. Social media provides a great opportunity to reach out and provide value to the people that you want to connect with.

Upfront value means that you have to provide something to see if that creates a relationship. If your efforts are rewarded, this then gives you the opportunity to get in touch and ask for advice.

No More Spray and Pray

Cold emails are the data equivalent of throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. Cold emails are easy, but when we’re hiding behind a keyboard to avoid being rejected, the truth is that we don’t stand out.

Don’t be just another keyboard warrior screaming into the online abyss without saying what you want to anyone.

Go and make a real connection, and use these alternative methods to reach out to the people you really want to talk to.

If you’re starting a business, this is invaluable!

I use this with my coaching clients when they launch a new product or new business to help them create a network to support their success.

Create the relationships and the network that will help you have a successful collaborative launch, rather than being on your own and having to figure it all out.

What’s your favourite way to reach out to a busy person?

Whatever you do, be different.

Originally published on Medium.

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