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networking communications

Etiquette of post networking communications

December 15, 2010

While I’ve previously written about the legal requirements regarding Data Protection and Email Marketing, this is about email marketing following contacts you meet physically when networking.
You will exchange cards with many people when attending networking events. So here I just want to explore what happens to those contacts afterwards.

It’s safe to say that most people are networking in order to extend their contacts, and hopefully to win business. As Dr. Ivan Misner of BNI, who knows a thing or two about networking, famously puts it: Givers Gain. This means, if I give you business, you’re going to want to give me business.

To be able to give someone business, you need to take an interest in what they do. Therefore, if we have exchanged cards while out networking, I would argue that there is nothing to get upset about if I add you to my list of contacts and email you my newsletter or a special offer or whatever. Provided you can unsubscribe then that’s perfectly acceptable. If you unsubscribe, it will signal to me that you’re not interested in me or in my business, or in helping me or having me as a contact.

So, I am surprised how some people find it so objectionable to  be put on a newsletter list – for example, Heather Townsend here (it is just an archive now, but I read her post earlier this year when she first wrote it, and have finally found time to write my take on it) . My feeling is  that whether you email someone to say you intend to put them on your list or simply do so, doesn’t make a great deal of difference in practice. I’ve tried both approaches.

Either way if the other person doesn’t want to receive your news, they will have to take some action. If you’ve emailed to ask whether they’d mind you adding them to your newsletter list, they’ll have to email back to say no please don’t add me to your list. While if you have simply added them, they’ll have to click your unsubscribe link so as not to receive any more newsletters from you. I would argue it puts less burden on them to simply send them your newsletter, because clicking an unsubscribe link involves less work for them.

Email is really very non intrusive in the scale of things. When you consider telephone sales and door knockers, junk mail and text messages, email is so much less problematic. All you need to do is press delete, or unsubscribe if you’re not interested. I suspect the irritation over ‘spam’ and emotive phraseology (calling it ‘illegal’) is really more a displaced annoyance over the daily battle to control inboxes, and all those foreign emails you can’t just unsubscribe from….