Just because you found me doesn’t mean you’ve earned the right to connect with me.
Once upon a time—in the days before social media—it did. Before you could look up anyone in the world with a few clicks, being able to find someone meant something. It meant you were creative. Clever. Perseverant. It meant that you had figured out how to get my name from a receptionist, and my extension, and ultimate, how to get patched through
It also meant something else, something even more important: it meant that you’d invested the time.
By the time you got me on the phone, I knew these things about you even before you said a word.
And hopefully, during the time you’d taken to find me, you’d come to know a thing or two about me, too. That was the hidden beauty of all the friction you encountered in trying to figure out who I was, where I was, and how to reach me: your path to me would give you the chance to learn something that you could mention in our conversation to break the ice.
The work required to find me, coupled with just a tiny bit of paying attention, earned you the right to engage me.
Fast forward to today: all my information is on LinkedIn. My company’s email structure are easily found or, if not, guessed. Finding me is friction-free, and because of that, it’s fast. And even if you know something about me when you reach out, am I really impressed by that? After all, I have Google, too… and LinkedIn, and Facebook… and I know how easy it is to dig up someone’s interests or find a mutual acquaintance.
Which means that as recruiters (or, frankly, sales people), you need to do something surprising if you want to build a relationship: you need to add friction to your process. Slow it down. Insert extra steps.
Not too many, let’s not be crazy. But just enough to make sure that when you get me on the phone, you’ve earned the right to make your ask. That you’ve done something to make sure you’re not ignored by me outright, or that you have to resort to spamming me to keep my attention.
For example, you can reach out with a give before you make an ask. You can reach out to that mutual acquaintance for an old-school intro, even if you don’t technically need it. Something!
Earn the right.
It makes all the difference.