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Initial Email = Initial Perception

When completing a contact form or when sending an email inquiry, never underestimate the power of perception! The words you use, how you choose to use them and your underlying tone can make a huge difference in how the other side views your request.

And… even if they will eventually respond.

The Power of Perception

I’ll use the project requests I receive on my consulting site (here) to make my point.

What perception is created when the Sender:

  • Does not type in complete sentences.
  • Generalities are provided in lieu of the details specifically asked for.
  • Name is typed in all lower case.
  • The answers to their questions are in my FAQ.
  • The answers to their questions are in my Modus Operandi that I provide.

My site does not have complicated navigation. My forms are clear about what information I need. I also make a point of linking to my FAQs and useful pages so that the inquirer can be informed as to how I roll.

I want to make sure to provide as much information and detail possible, based on 24 years of addressing potential client questions. My goal is to make sure they have the information they need to know if they want to proceed before wasting their time (and to be honest mine as well).

Are these valid clues?

These are just a few of the issues I experience on a pretty regular basis. Does this approach imply the inquirers time is more valuable than mine? Maybe. Do they lack the attention to details to thrive online? Possibly.

Will I be able to help them succeed online if they are unwilling to complete the form on my site? What am I to think about all small case, incomplete sentences and typos? I am looking for the clues that will let me know what they will be like as a client or partner. Regardless of the approach, I always respond promptly and with additional detail so that they know they can count on me to provide the information they seek.

My decades of experience reflects that with a little coaching and desire to embrace what I discuss here, positive impressions can be made. Most are folks who have no idea the perception they are creating! Many are surprised how with just a little extra effort they can show what a great person they are to do business with!

Intent and Tone

Next is the importance of intent and tone. Sentence structure and grammar are in place but …

  • A copy-n-pasted generic request reflecting that they are hopping from site to site is provided.
  • Language not fitting a professional in describing experiences with previous developers is included.
  • They tell me how much time it will take for me to handle their request. “This should be simple and only take you a couple minutes.”

I experience this type of communication style pretty often. Needless to say it does not impress or encourage me to want to foster a business relationship. Are you guilty of this approach?

For me, the intent and tone part is what I look at most closely. After emailing for longer than most, I’ve learned initial inquiries speak volumes about the person contacting me. Their initial emails will provide a window into what they are like to work with. When emailed without regard to my experience, policies or the inquirer does not take the time to send a personalized professional email, I usually take a pass. And I know I am not alone in that approach.

Little Details Add Up to Initial Impressions

Little “eNuances”, as I call them, can make a world of difference. When it comes to forming potentially valuable partnerships and online networking relationships, the details do matter. If you are too lax, too informal or too assuming, you may find that those who you need most may not be interested in your interest.

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