Dear Business Person I Just Met,
It was lovely to meet you at that business networking (or other) event. When I gave you my business card, though, I was hoping to communicate with you. I did not expect you to subscribe me to your list. I wasn’t interested in you communicating at me, but rather in furthering our budding relationship by connecting and getting to know one another. At some point, I might have chosen to subscribe myself to your list.
You’ve made a mistake in subscribing me without my permission – and no, my business card is not tacit agreement or permission for you to opt me in. In doing so, you’ve forced our relationship back several steps, when you could’ve just connected with me personally, one-on-one.
When you meet someone in person and they’re willing to give you their card, they’re inviting you in. Do you know how valuable that is? Do you have any idea what a gift it is? You’ve already met me and had a conversation with me and I’ve said I’d like to know you a little better. How many people on your list can you say that about? More often than not, the people on newsletter lists are unknown, just names on a list. You haven’t met them yet. But you’ve met me. And you treated me like one of the people you’d never met. Thanks for that. (<—sarcasm fully intended)
But by adding me to your newsletter subscription list (and sans permission, which is just bad practice), you’ve just disengaged with me and told me that you don’t want to know me better. You simply see me as just a prospect. I’m just another name on your list, another person to add to the Rolodex. I’m not a person you value in the slightest, except for what you can get from me.
You see, I never give my card to anyone expecting them to subscribe me to their list, and I’m always shocked when they do so. I want to believe you do it because you don’t know better, but the truth is, I think it’s because we have a fundamentally different perspective on how to do business.
I am never interested in someone’s list – most people aren’t. I’m interested in you. The second you transfer that interest to “I’m subscribing you to my list, whether you want me to or not” you tell me that you are not interested in me. I’m just a name on your list, when I could’ve been a valuable business contact that you might’ve gotten to know.
Oh, I know. You’re busy. You don’t have time to personally email everyone you meet. You certainly don’t have time to write a handwritten note. But I’d like to suggest that if you really want your business to grow, if you really want to be taken seriously and to get to that next level, you make the time. Because until you actually treat people like people and not prospects, you’ll likely stay exactly where you are.
My friend, Bob Burg, wrote a wonderful book, entitled Endless Referrals, that covers, among other things, business networking. It’s well worth a read. In this book, Burg recommends that you make the time to handwrite a note to each person you meet at a business networking function. I personally have horrible handwriting, so I do prefer to use email, otherwise frankly, people wouldn’t be able to read my very lovely “nice to meet you” note. At any rate, in taking the time for a handwritten note – heck, in taking the time for any personal note- you really stand out as someone different in this “what can I get from you” world.
What is most important is that you not automatically add me to your “list” because I gave you my card. If you do subscribe me without permission, I promise you this: I will unsubscribe. And I will probably report you for spam. And we will likely not do business. Because I prefer to give my business to people who understand the value and importance of business relationships.
P.S. Any marketing “expert” who tells you that you should automatically add people to your list is full of baloney and you should fire them immediately. They’re doing it wrong. And if you follow their advice, so are you.