2 Ingredients to Write Emails that Don’t Suck: “Proximity and a Reason”

Renee was talking about selling before the Internet. No Facebook ads, no funnels, no Zoom. She told me that she taught her teams that if they wanted to set up a meeting with a potential client, they needed “proximity and a reason to reach out.” So they needed to be in a place where their potential client would be, and they needed a reason to strike up a conversation.

It made me think of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, which I was reading at the time. The book was written about 100 years ago and it’s set in 1890. So like, waaaay before the internet.

A few of the male characters are members of a club. A literal “old boys’ club.” It dawned on me: these clubs existed not just to make their fancy members feel even fancier, but so that a man with something to sell could legit run into another man who might want to buy, and that potential buyer wouldn’t be a total stranger. “We are both members of the same old boy’s club! What a coincidence, my good man!”the chap with something to sell could say.

Proximity and a reason to reach out.

So what does this have to do with email?

These days, many more of us have proximity, which is nice because now you don’t have to be a rich white man to make a living as a businessperson.

But what is our reason to reach out? In the old boys’ club, you could reach out because you had something in common—the same club. Renee might focus on the fact that you both grew up in California, or you both have dogs or kids or just came back from vacation.

But when you’re emailing your list, you don’t know those particular personal details, and anyway you’re sending one email to many people. But! You do know one thing about all of them: they joined your list. The question you need to ask yourself (and answer!) is why? What was their reason for joining your list?

And when you send email to them, are you sending a note that has anything to do with their reason for opting in? Their reason for opting in has to inform every email you send. What did they hope to get from you? Do your emails connect to that initial reason? Or are you off the rails and talking to yourself?

Start thinking about sending emails because the people on the other end need this message, and you want to start a conversation.

Don’t really know why they joined? I have a couple of tips for you on how to figure it out. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to send emails that really matter to the people you want to work with, sign up for my list.

I send all my best tips there every week.

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