How to Get Anyone's Attention
Admit it: You've been clamoring for attention. Whether you're trying to sell something, solicit involvement in your project, ask for a job, or (so often in my case) get someone to write about you, you're relentless in your effort to get noticed. Unfortunately most of you are failing miserably. When I receive these emails, more often than not, they go in the trash because they are undeserving of my time and attention. Some just plain make me mad because they are so self-serving and boring.
For some of you our goals are truly aligned. You want my attention and I want to buy, engage, hire, or tell your story. Here is what you are doing wrong:
Your solicitations are boring.
Your solicitations are self-indulgent.
Your solicitations are unoriginal.
I know that sounds harsh, but there are reasons why your emails are going unanswered and you are not getting the attention you deserve. I am simply telling you what other writers, employers and prospects won't take the time or effort to tell you because they are busy and they are just being nice.
So I am going to help you. Before you trash me in the comments, consider the following suggestions and learn to get the attentive response from people who can really help your cause:
1. Get to Know Me
Treat me as though I am worth the effort. Instead of sending out a canned email to hundreds, identify people who can specifically help, and invest some time and energy to understand them. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google you can learn a lot about a person and figure out whether or not there are truly common goals or if you are just wasting everyone's time. If there really is a connection, tailor an email to demonstrate that you are truly a fan of my work or at least that there are common interests. True, I may think you a bit of a stalker, but I made that information public for a reason. Show respect by taking the time to read and absorb it and I'll appreciate your attention to detail.
2. Show Me Value
Media expert Shawne Duperon teaches that working relationships thrive when there is reciprocity. That is, you give me something helpful and I give you something helpful. I know you have a story to tell, but as my smart friend and colleague Rick Newman of US News and World Report once said to a room full of entrepreneurs: "All of you have interesting stories, and none of my readers give a s**t." Don't just assume that the raw facts of your business, cause, story, resume, etc. are enough to make me or my followers jump to attention. Guess what, there are thousands of start-ups, new books, eager job applicants, worthy causes, and smart people. Explain why you are truly different. Then, don't just make it about you. Communicate the specific value you bring to me, and the people who follow me. Finally, do the hard work, which is to outline in detail how we would work together and create value for others. I may not see it exactly your way, but I will reward your effort with greater thought, feedback and perhaps a chance to collaborate in some manner.
3. Entertain Me!
The surest way to be rewarded with attention is through creativity. You have many tools at your disposal. Apple and their software minions have made sure of it. You can make a cool presentation, video or even write me a short story. My God, at the very least, send me a joke. Just don't bore me with a long blah, blah, blah email or cover letter that says the same stuff about how you are going to change the world or how you want to make a difference. Show me something cool, fun, and emotionally moving. Give me the Awesome Experience: the convergence of need, entertainment and the unexpected. Then, even if we can't help each other. I will likely pass along your creative submission and give it an even better chance of getting some much desired attention.
Oh, and just so you know, I read every comment on my columns so here's your chance. Wow me.