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Aliza Licht's BLACKBOARD



Episode 2: "Traffic"

  
 
Welcome back, dear readers. If you’re just joining my program, please do yourself a favor and go back to the archive and start with Episode 1. If you continue to read this, it's like starting House of Cards at Season 4. You wouldn’t know what Frank did to Zoe. Scratch that, you wouldn’t even know who Zoe was. In the same vein, you need to know a little bit about me to understand where I am coming from now.
 
Today’s BLACKBOARD topic is “traffic”. While I love Waze, it’s not that kind of traffic. The traffic I want to talk about is very, very different.
 
In my book, LEAVE YOUR MARK, I write about an idea that I coined “Last name syndrome.” That is, people often become empowered by the company they work at, and they depend on it so much that their name could begin to mean nothing on its own. For example, I would rather be known as “Aliza Licht” as opposed to “Aliza from CompanyX.” Suffering from “Last Name Syndrome” is a serious disease and one that you need to prevent at all costs. Bottom line, your relationships need to be able to stand on their own no matter where you work or what you do.
 
So about three months before I left my job I started preparing my strategy for life after seventeen years of full-time employment. As a former publicist, my network is strong, but it’s always necessary for anyone, no matter how senior, to keep his or her relationships fresh. As I started my outreach to people, I wondered if my name would mean anything without the power of my former company behind it? Are people still going to respond to my emails if I don’t have fabulous clothes to lend them? I wasn’t sure.
 
I decided that it might be beneficial to keep track of my outreach so I created an excel document called LEADS. These weren’t job leads because I wasn’t looking for another full-time job, but rather connections and introductions that could lead me down the new roads I wished to travel. I documented every piece of information I could. See the chart below for your reference.
 


When you think about outreach, especially via email, you need to consider the sheer volume that you are competing against. Your email is pretty much that one pair of size 8.5 studded Louboutins buried in the sea of shoes at the Bergdorf Goodman after Christmas shoe sale. Translation: It's not easy to find. The other thing to consider is that there is no incentive for the receiver to respond. You are not offering anything, but rather asking for something. I swear if we all sent our important pitches with the subject line GOSSIP, we would get a much better response rate.
 
Needless to say, my LEADS document grew very long. People were gracious in their willingness to introduce me to new people and those people were amenable to chatting. But once the initial meeting or call was over I realized that there was nothing to do. No next steps. It was a constant 'start, stop.' Just like traffic. When you hit one red light after the next, it makes you realize how important it is to know how to take multiple routes. You can't just sit in traffic. You need to know how to navigate the back roads. With your LEADS chart, you can work on different routes at the same time and not get mentally lost. 
 
Keeping track of the new connections you make or the old connections you freshen up, gives you an easy way to know where you are in your process. Crossing out the dead leads shows you where you stand. When you set your expectations at zero you can't be disappointed. I decided that I was going to pursue as many leads as possible and not care where they went. Truth be told, for a few weeks, they lead nowhere. But then something happened. A new connection led to an opportunity to speak at a conference. That speech led to an inquiry from another company to work on a project. The best part, because of my handy LEADS chart, I knew whom to thank for introducing me to the original person.

See you just never know where things can go. Sometimes you can only see the benefit in something after you’ve had a chance to connect the dots. In fact, going back after a few weeks to review your open leads can remind you to touch base with someone. Timing is everything, and you never know if an opportunity is better suited now than it was the last time you spoke. You simply can’t be as organized if you’re just depending on your email threads to keep you on track.
 
Being stuck in traffic can be frustrating at times because you often feel that nothing is working and that your outreach is for naught. But don’t despair. Make sitting through a red light productive by analyzing yourself. Did you present yourself in the best way possible? Did you spell the person’s name wrong? Was your pitch not tailored enough? Not gracious enough? Can you improve your strategy for next time? 
 
If you have critiqued yourself honestly and you are happy with the way you presented then maybe your email actually is that pair of Louboutins. And come on, you know as well as I do that it’s always worth that one last stroll around the shoe department. In doing so, you just might find that the pair you were desperately searching for simply fell behind the rack. Once you spot them, though, you’ll know it was worth that second glance.

 
 
Many people have asked me about the rules for following up. Here are my personal guidelines:

Scenario One:
- You send an email and get no response: Wait at least a week to follow-up. People are legitimately busy. If your follow-up gets no response: Honey, they're just not that into you, and it's time to move on.

Scenario Two:
- You send an email and get a response with a promise to set up a meeting or call. You respond positively and then get no additional response. In this scenario, It's ok to send a gentle reminder a few days later and pick up the conversation thread.
Remember, sharing is caring! xoxo


Do you want to tell me something about this post or suggest the topic of my next one? Email me at blackboard@alizalicht.com or tweet me @AlizaLicht

 
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