How often does it happen when you’re on the job hunt, looking for a recommendation, or asking for a referral that you feel like you’re reaching out to your professional contacts and “fans,” sending multiple emails, texts, and follow-ups only to receive minimal, if any, response?
This is a common frustration, but scientific research may explain why digital silence is normal, and how you can be incredibly more effective in getting positive responses to your requests simply by asking someone face-to-face.
According to a new study, face-to-face requests are 34 times more likely to be successful than text or email requests. Asking a request of 6 people in person is the equivalent of making the same request to 200 people via email.
The study states that most people still believe that an email request will be as effective as an in-person ask because their intention is just as genuine in each instance, but when making the request people don’t take into account the feelings or reactions of the recipient, who might call into question the authenticity of the individual or the request.
A good example of this is Girl Scout cookie season that takes place every January through March, when over 200 million colorful boxes of cookies are sold at schools, offices and storefronts. You probably receive a few emails from co-workers, friends and neighbors asking you to buy a box or two to support their daughter in their entrepreneurial efforts, or you might be asked to buy more than a few boxes from an adorable salesperson in a decorated vest going door-to-door, and braving the cold weather to sell you your favorite Thin Mints or Tagalongs.
When you think about the variety of ways that millions of boxes are sold, you would probably agree that it’s harder to resist buying a box from the smiling girl scout asking you directly, rather than her parent sending out an email asking you to buy on their daughter’s behalf.
As you build your career and your base of fans, keep this principle in mind. There will be times when you need to reach out to a contact to put in a recommendation for you at a company, or need professional advice, or want to be direct about asking for a job or a favor. Take the extra effort and make those requests in-person. Having just 6 face-to-face conversations will save you the time it takes to write 200 emails, and could make the difference in securing a dream job or discovering a new career. If it works for the Girl Scouts, it will work for you!