The Software Gets In The Way

Readers of this blog will note my love for technology, and also my respect for the human mind, both its intellectual and emotional capabilities. I’m very happy to let machines take care of things that don’t need attention, but I find that sometimes software gets in the way of striking up conversations, exploring mutual interests, sharing new ideas, and making new connections. Software also can’t take a good picture, nor can it predict my taste in music, but that’s a subject for a whole other blog posting.

In this posting, I thought I’d share some interesting observations I’ve made over the past two weeks. With the summer behind us, I’ve decided to shift my focus to the next chapter of my career. After mastering the interview process of a so-called leader in the marketing technology space, I decided to take a more grassroots approach towards lead generation, or in plain speak, job searching. The hypothesis is that I’d find a better match for my skills and interests, as well as a better group of colleagues, if I simply put down the fancy tools and “went analog” for a little bit.

Using email, a phone, and a simple offer to buy coffee, I reached out to 50 people between September 3rd and September 12th. The response has astounded me:

48 introductory conversations
17 meetings scheduled
8 confirmed
5 already occurred
4 to be planned
3 new contacts created
1 new opportunity to explore

By most marketing measures, especially in digital channels, these numbers are great. Converting 48 calls into 17 meetings is better than a 33% response rate! You never get that with social media. I can interpret that a number of ways:

1. My timing was solid. Never contact someone on Monday seems to be working.
2. I wrote a good note. Short-form copy absent of buzzwords and self-promotion.
3. I made a compelling offer. Free coffee.

Actually, that wasn’t the offer, that was the incentive. The offer was for conversation about something that interests each and every one of us: how people are navigating the landscape in the advertising and marketing space. I’m genuinely interested. And others are genuinely interested in talking about it. But the mobile phones and social media we all love get in the way of constructive conversation. And the self-promotion on events and newsfeed doesn’t provide answers. Which may be why an offer to step out of the office and chat has worked so well: the software has gotten in the way.

So, what to do with this insight? A couple of things:

1. Broaden the campaign. More introductions. More conversations.

2. Simplify the ask. I don’t mean coffee. That’s easy. I mean how people can help me do what I want next.

3. Stay in touch. Not through broadcast messages on social feeds, but through personalized communication and informal conversations. In spite of all the buzz about career matchmaking and online job boards, that’s not where opportunities really lie. In other words, “go analog.”

One last piece of career advice: don’t leave yours to the machines. 🙂