Networking Pro-Tip: Go Narrow

When reaching wide, you need to be narrow.

Networking Pro-Tip: Go Narrow

Here I go again.

Yes, I’m off on another rant - addressed to those sending the same “ask” email to every f’g person in their contact list.

I know, sometimes you have to go wide - searching or reaching into the bowels and depths and dusty corners of your network - to see if someone in there may just have an answer for you. And that is what you’re seeking. An answer. And if your immediate networking cohort of trusty, fail-proof friends have, well, failed to come through - then you reach deeper (or give up - but giving up is not why we’re having this discussion).

The error is not that you’re sending an ask to every f’g person you know, the error is in the framing of the ask. A generic aka non-specific ask is not the type of request for information/help/guidance/assistance/recommendation/intro/lead anyone (other than your nearest and dearest, most trusted BFFs who know one day in the very near future, they will ask you to return the favor, or a lovingly patient relative who still believes everything you do is wonderful) is going to spend a hot half-second contemplating (let alone answering).

Case in point, this email I received:

Hi Kelly,

Just thought I would share some updates on ______________________. We recently did a site redesign that better portrays our content focus. Let me know what. you think. Also, we recently confirmed our first affiliate relationships with _______ companies to drive ____________ commission revenue, and sold our first advertising contracts.

We are looking for early stage investors, so please let me know if any come to mind. I have attached our updated investor deck.

Happy holiday season to you!


By all means! draw up a list of “other than the usual suspects” or “haven’t talked to in ages but maybe they could help types” to reach out THEN get to work customizing each email.

Using the “Hi Kelly” example above:

  • If someone is a design guru, or has website expertise, ask them to comment on your site redesign. Why imagine that someone (aka me) who is spending more time on Substack than Wordpress would have a useful opinion.
  • If someone is your target market, ask them if they wouldn’t mind testing the site for navigation or other issues. Ask for their feedback as a user. If I’m not told how or why I’m in a target market, I’m sorry, I’m just not stretching my curiosity to figure that out.
  • If someone has experience with affiliate marketing, seek them out on that. See what feedback or ideas or suggestions they have for you. Same goes for advertising. For the record, I have ZERO experience in both of these areas.
  • If you’re seeking investors, do NOT send to a “We are looking for early stage investors, so please let me know if any come to mind” ask to anyone, ever. No person who you are very loosely connected to, is going to use their valuable time and energy on this wildly unspecific wild goose chase ask. Figure out how to narrow down the ask from “early stage investors” to something more specific - which has the possibility of jolting someone into action on your behalf. Are they part of an angel syndicate? Are they BFFs with an investor you’re interested in talking to?
  • I understand you’ve put a lot of work into crafting your deck…but simply attaching your updated deck will not, in the first email instance, inspire someone to open it. Do more.

Yes, you will have to spend some time and energy researching and crafting a compelling email…and that is the point here: if you want an outlay of time and energy from someone else (not to mention, a suggestion/recommendation or valuable introduction), then show the person you really do understand this networking exchange, by putting the work into your ask. If you can’t do that (because it is too much work and/or effort or some other lame excuse), then don’t bother sending the f’g email in the first place. And no, this is not a “you never know” email everyone scenario, as in you never know they might know someone or they might answer or or or…because here is what I do know: the email (above) has gone into trash, and right along with it, the sender’s reputation.

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