Dear Networker, Try Harder

By May 10, 2011

“Hey, Jason, it was great meeting you at XYZ event a few days ago. Your thing that you’re working on sounds pretty sweet. Let me know if I can help out at all, or if you want to grab coffee or something sometime.”

If I get one more email like this, my fist’s going through the monitor. That’s not a threat. It’s a promise.

This morning, when I woke up and checked my email, I had four such emails in my inbox. Total randos. Since I’m one of these many newly-minted college dropout tech entrepreneurs (yeah, I finally put my money where my mouth is), I’ve spent a lot of time “networking” over the past few months. This means that I’ve received a lot of these little three or four sentence formulaic emails, to which I’ve responded with equally pro forma replies. And, you know what? I’m tired of it.

It’s not like there was anything special about these three emails this morning. I’ve received a bazillion of them. I’ve woken up and found dozens in my inbox. But today, today three hapless individuals received what is going to be my new form letter to those who send me formulaic “following up with you” networking emails.

And here it is:


Dear ____________,

Thanks for your followup email. It was indeed nice meeting you at [that event a few days ago]. And I’m really flattered that you’re interested in my project, but I want to be honest with you. Okay?

Take off your business hat for a second.

Those little four sentence “hey it was nice meeting you” emails, yeah, they aren’t doing you any favors. I know that you’ve probably been told that brevity is the goal in business correspondence, but I’m going to let you in on something: if you invest the time to write something longer than the scanty blurb you just sent, you’re really investing yourself in me. You show me that you actually care about my project.

I’m sure you’re a much more creative, engaging, human person than your email let on. So, if you really want to talk to me, if you genuinely care about my project, I’d like to know why. And, because I’m all for honesty, let’s both acknowledge that you’re contacting me because you want something out of me. It’s what’s “networking” is for. It’s a dirty business. But, I want to let you know that I’m willing to help out in whatever way I can with your project.

Let me know.




Jason Rowley