The book that’s had the largest impact on my career is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People which was published in 1936.
It helped me start seeing the world through other people’s eyes. I started focusing less on my wants and needs and started paying more attention to what motivated others and made them happy. It sounds obvious but very few people actually do this daily.
Carnegie’s book focuses a lot on physical interaction. For example, looking people in the eye and smiling. How do you do these things through email, Twitter and Facebook?
Before we tackle that, let me sum up the book in two simple points:
- Be genuinely interested in others
- Be friendly
So how do you do this digitally?
When you’re trying to get in touch with someone over email, how do you get their attention? Here are some ideas …
Use their first name in the subject.
Good: “Ryan, I think I can increase your revenue”. This is powerful because it’s something that I care about and it’s simple to understand. I’d almost be foolish to not open this email.
Bad: “Ryan, can we grab a cup of coffee?”. There’s no obvious benefit to me and worse, it will cost me something valuable (time).
Keep the body text very short. Immediately get to the benefit for them.
Good: “Hey Ryan, I know you’ve been tweeting about scaling your customer acquisition lately. I’ve got an idea on how you can do this. If you have 20 minutes on Monday at 8:55am or Wednesday at 5:00pm I can give you a call.”
Bad: “Hi Ryan, [insert two long paragraphs about you and your company and how awesome it is]. Anyway, I’d love to give you a call to discuss how we can help you. What time works for you?”
Be friendly, genuine and personable. Always try to mention something that reminds them you’re human, just like them.
Good: “[at end of email] I’ve got to run and put the kids to bed now, but I hope we can catch up soon! :) All the best, Ryan” Share personal stuff and include smiley faces if you feel happy.
Physical always tops digital
Using the methods above will help you get in front of the right people, but nothing is more powerful then a physical connection.
Almost all of my valuable business relationships are based in physically meeting someone first at a social event or conference.
One of the things that helped Treehouse succeed so quickly was the friendships I had built with influential folks in the tech industry. I did this by hosting events and inviting some of the smartest people in the industry to speak. Once they agreed and we met in person, we had the chance to become friends.
This is how I became friends with some amazing folks like Kevin Rose, Kevin Systrom, Ev Williams, Biz Stone, Dick Costollo, Jeffrey Zeldman and more. I’m fortunate and happy to call these amazing people friends.
Friendships need to be reciprocal. You’ve always got to be thinking about how you can help them out. It’ll come back someone in a karma-like fashion. Don’t worry.
In our digital world, the bond that’s formed by spending time physically with someone is even more special than it was in Carnegie’s time. If you take time to get to know someone (and are genuinely interested in them and friendly) there’s a good possibility that a friendship will blossom - and friendships make the business world go around.
Just remember that most people don’t even take time out of their busy schedules to see their friends, let alone potential business partners. If you make that effort in a genuine and friendly manner, you’ll separate yourself out from 95% of everyone else.
Anyway, I’m getting a bit tired so I’m going to call it quits here but hopefully these couple tips will help you get ahead. Please share your thoughts below :)
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