Sunday, January 18, 2009

First Contact

I'm very regimented when it comes to email. When I receive a message, I'll ask myself "does it warrant a response?" If so, and it's not urgent, I'll wait a few hours to reply so I don't come across as a compulsive no-life loser. To ensure that I don't forget about the message, I'll star it or mark it as 'unread'. If the message asks me something that I don't want to answer right away, I'll reply with something like "I'll think about it and get back to you." Then I'll actually do it. I don't have much to be cocky about, so I feel like I've earned the right to designate myself A Damn Reliable Emailer.

For whatever reasons, a lot of the people I communicate with are not. I sometimes admire it and occasionally get steaming mad about it, but I usually just find it mildly impolite (my friend Amy once defined 'endearing' as "when somebody you like does something annoying"). However, it could present a huge problem in my quest to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So why not just make some phone calls and avoid the problem altogether? Because I like to follow the Golden Rule, and my preferred method of being asked for money, by far, would be via email. It wouldn't matter if the person asking is a casual acquaintance or my own mother, or whether my eventual answer would be 'yes' or 'no' - an email would give me a chance to sort out my thoughts without being put on the spot, and it would let me do it at a time that's convenient for me. It's not a coincidence that I think telemarketers are the lowest form of life to ever exist.

My concern is that emailing people to gauge investment interest will inevitably lead to awkward phone calls and run-ins where I pretend to bring up the subject for the first time. If people start avoiding me because I send them emails about money, cold calling may be less detrimental to my relationships with them. Hopefully I'll still have friends when this is all said and done.


Lizz said...

I want to point out that I will never forget how Amy defined the word endearing and her description of it has always made me chuckle whenever anyone else used the word in conversation. I am glad that you remember it too.

And yes, cold calling sucks. Even if it is to people you know.

Joe said...

I miss college and I'm glad you agree with me about cold calling. One of my fears is that people I'm close to will be insulted by emails because they're less personal than phone calls.

Lizz said...

I say go with your gut on that and call anyone who comes to mind when you have that fear.
You are following your heart in making this thing happen, so you will have to do whatever is necessary. I am sure you will go out of your comfort zone somehow. I think business pushes all of us to do that. Just be glad you aren't in the corporate rat race.

Anonymous said...

after the first 40-50 people you will get a comfort level of what you are doing.

call me I'll give you a few pointers, I've done this before, after 200 it becomes simple.


Phil said...

I'm in a line of work that sometimes involves cold calling people who don't want to talk to me. I also would much rather send email, but often cannot for various reasons. I think the two best things you can do is to know your subject inside and out (you do) and be passionate about it (you are). That's probably 90% plus. Folks will appreciate these things even if they ultimately say no. (If they are a jerk to you, you probably don't want them investing anyway.)

Then try out your basic spiel on some close friends and have them pepper you with the hardest, most bizarre questions they can come up with. After that, cold calls should be cake. :)

If you don't know an answer, don't fudge it. Just say you'll find out, and then do it asap. Hope this helps a little!

Joe said...

Hey Phil, thanks for the advice!

Megan said...

Cold calling does suck, and usually people don't like it when you solicit then. But, if you email these people, you might not get a response at all. I would suggest one of these options:

1. Call and tell them why your calling but tell them you'd like to give them time to think over what you've said, and you'll give a follow up call. That way they won't totally be taken off guard.

2. Email them and mention that they should expect a call from you to follow up and talk about the email. That way they can read it on their own time, but still get the personal call.

Joe said...

Hey Megan, those are great ideas that should have been really obvious! It comforts me to know that my drinking sabbatical hasn't stopped me from getting dumber (I have a great deal of evidence to support this).