Tell me again, how do we know each other? 

Did you know that the average office worker receives 120 emails every day? *  This is after Gmail blocks 99.9 percent of spam phishing and malware** and despite the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 and the FTC’s national registry of Do Not Call numbers.  

Most of us spend some time every day deleting those unsolicited communications.  Lately, I’ve been getting communications from companies/people who must have found my name on some list.  So, here’s my question:  If you are going to spend time trying to reach me, why are you still using out-of-date “cold” communication?   

You know how it is.  It’s cold calling via email.  I guess the sender expects that if I am interested in what they are pushing I will connect.  But most of the offerings are generic at best and maybe exploitative to my connections so I am not willing.  If you want to connect with me or anyone else, shouldn’t you try to find some kind of common ground or explanation for why I should do so?  There is so much information available and many good tools available to any of us these days that it is almost inexcusable to “cold call.”  Let’s use LinkedIn as a reference.  Want to connect to me (and the people I am connected to)?  How are we connected?  Accepting a connection from a stranger seems odd.  

I wouldn’t go to a party that a stranger invited me to, especially if the only reason I’m on the list is that I have something the sender wants!

As I waste my time deleting voicemails that clog up my phone and emails and texts that create clutter, I can only surmise that these strangers don’t realize that sending me a “cold” note is a waste.  There is no excuse not to spend an extra minute or two to look for some connection.  We probably have a shared interest, belong to the same professional group, went to the same school, or have an acquaintance of an acquaintance connection.  Even with the explosion of social networking, the Six Degrees of Separation theory appears to be holding true! (See link to HBR article below).  

One of my great-something relatives (1870s) used letters of introduction when he was traveling from Natchez to Chicago to buy a business.  (Before telephones were widely in use –by 1900—and right after the Civil War.) In those days it was considered improper to make a connection to someone without being introduced.  His letters were from his banker, attorney and fellow businessmen, and friends who vouched for him with the bankers, the business owner whose company he was trying to buy, and with the men’s club (and members) where he stayed when he was traveling.   We are no longer reliant on those types of letters of introduction (although they are still used in diplomatic and some business circles) it is a good idea to have a connection vouch for you if you want to make real contact with someone.   

I welcome calls from landscaping companies and other professionals in my professional work groups.  I love to hear from people who have a question or want to discuss something related to their business.  Sadly, I still waste time dealing with “contacts” who want to connect with me so that I could benefit from their service.  Of course, I delete and block as many of these communications as possible.  I admit it, I put labels of rude and lazy on most of these senders.  They don’t spend ANY time trying to find out where we might have a real connection or, in fact, really trying to get to know me.  

I don’t think we need to go back to the days of “letters of introduction” days, but I am a believer in trying to find common ground and/or a basis of trust for the beginning of an acquaintance. 

Are you interested in exploring the sale of your business?  Whether you want to make a complete exit or find a new ownership structure that will allow you to grow your business with support, we would be happy to review your options.  Do you have your exit plan in place?  If so, you will be working to be ready to take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves in these changing times.  An exit plan will keep you on top of your game so that you will be ready.  It’s never too early to start working on your options for exiting your business.  Give us a call.  We help companies prepare for and execute their plans for now and for the future.  Working with a trusted advisor can leverage your time.

You can reach me via email: [email protected] or on my cell phone a: 224-688-8838.

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!


* Source: Campaign Monitor 

**As of 2015, Source: Venture Beat

 Six Degrees Research Harvard Business Review 


Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio