A while ago I got a slick email in my inbox. The sender had even come up with a logo that was made up of his initials. It proudly stood at the top of the email as if it was some sort of landmark. The rest of the layout had social share buttons, links, headers, footers, even a handwritten signature… a fully loaded template!

The sender had clearly put a lot of thought and effort into what his emails should look like. And yes, he had my attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Because the email was such a visual power statement, I braced for its content. I started reading, but I kept my finger close to the ‘delete’ button, just in case…

It seemed that I had just received a message from a ‘super being’. From what it said, this guy could do anything. He had repeatedly established ‘7-figure growth’ businesses and had cohorts of investors dying to invest with him. He proclaimed to be an opinion leader who had been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and ‘many other respected international publications’ (note: you need to be carful about what you claim about yourself in a world with Google!). He made it sound like he could make it rain on demand, broker lasting peace in the Middle East while solving all the other major problems in the world. Astonishing!

Then there was this one sentence that said: “….I am seeking a full time position with an organisation that can support my entrepreneurial passion and allow me to stay connected with my current investors in a sustainable and compliant way…”

The finger on the ‘delete’ button was itching now but I decided to keep reading because I was having way too much fun with this email. I know a great case study when I see one and there was so much wrong with this outreach attempt that it would become a collectors item in my swipe file of the best and worst emails I receive.

With his ‘entrepreneurial passion’ and his ‘ability to create millions worth of business’, why does he need anyone to hire him? Why does he need someone else to ’support’ his passion? And what about all those investors?

Frankly, the whole thing looked a bit like this:

Sure, I know we all get those shady emails from people claiming to have millions of dollars to share with us. I also know that these messages are deliberately crafted by grifters to span a net to catch fools. But this message clearly wasn’t one of those 419 scams. Rather, it was a confused and misguided attempt at harnessing the powers of technology. To me, it was an unusually funny ‘cartoon’ of how never to present yourself. More specifically, it achieved the opposite of what the message was intended for. Instead of coming across as confident and professional, it made me giggle and feel deeply suspicious.

Furthermore, this message was all about the sender. There was no consideration whatsoever about providing any form of value to the reader.

What do you expect to get when you haven't given first?

My message today is not about how to write great introduction messages. Rather, I hope this example will make you take a moment to think about all the things we allow ourselves to do with technology. Things that we wouldn’t do in real life.

We all have to keep defending ourselves against all the inconsiderate and selfish stuff that gets thrown into our inbox. And I’m afraid this trend has only begun. In the next 5 years, another 3 billion people will come online. That is about as many people as there are in today’s global online population. Its going to get very crowded and noisy. There will be billions of people who will try to get our attention. They are going to throw even more ‘stuff’ at us to see what sticks. We’ll have to see if email survives as a useful medium in this kind of environment. Maybe there will be an alternative technology that we can’t even imagine yet.

But the key point here is that it will increasingly be a privilege to have and keep someone’s attention. The complicated thing about privileges is that they need to be earned. So, regardless of the medium, it will help if you start seeing it as a value delivery mechanism.

That is the thought I want to leave you with today…