Two or three times a day, I get a note that is some iteration of the below:
On the one hand, I love these notes. I’m incredibly excited when people find value in what our startups do, or what we do, and want to join. Our companies need all the great people they can get, and so does Village Capital.
Buying someone coffee is not a prerequisite for getting a job, a sale, or a successful fundraise. Tweet This Quote
On the other hand, these notes break my heart because given competing demands in my daily work, I can’t possibly delegate enough time to do these conversations justice. And I’m not alone—nearly everyone I know in the startup world has too much to do, and not enough time, so “networking coffees” are almost always the lowest priority.
I understand that when you’re trying to make your way professionally, you want to meet all the people you can. Yet taking someone out to coffee is not a prerequisite for getting a job—or, for that matter, a sale, or a successful fundraise. Every interaction you have should be an exchange of value. If people have time for coffee and advice, that’s great. But, usually they don’t.
If, however, you’re not even getting responses to an email, I suggest you try what I like to call GVAP (hat tip to Matt Williamson, CEO of Windsor Circle, one of the best salespeople I’ve ever met).
The formula goes like this:
- GOAL: What’s the goal of the meeting?
- VALUE: What’s the value of the meeting to the other person?
- AGENDA: What would you like to talk about?
- PERMISSION TO PROCEED: Here, you ask the other person for permission to move forward—in the way that’s comfortable for them.
So, if I’m Connor, here’s how I should think about the email. Remember, the goal of the e-mail is two-sided: 1) For Connor, he wants to explore job opportunities; 2) For me, I want to know if he is a fit for the job.
GOAL: Note that Connor outlines the goal for both of us in the conversation.
VALUE: Note that Connor outlines the value of the conversation to me at Village Capital—not to himself. (It’s already implicit that the value to him is that he’s looking for a job.)
1. What are the biggest problems that you, and people like you, are facing that you’re looking for new team members to solve?
2. What kinds of roles would you be looking for in the startup world if you were me, based on my background (attached).
3. Is there any potential for me to work with Village Capital? If so, what’s the best way to proceed with a conversation?
4. Is there anyone else I should be speaking with?
AGENDA: Note that Connor outlines the agenda. He has specific requests that can be answered shorthand over email, if necessary; they also would set an agenda for an in-person meeting.
PERMISSION TO PROCEED: Note that Connor gives me a few different ways that we could proceed, recognizing that (a) of course he wants answers in his job search; (b) there are a few different ways that we can follow up; (c) he gives me an out in case I don’t have time.
I’m writing this blog in part because the GVAP style for any email is something that applies anytime you’re asking someone for their time—whether it’s advice, sales, or fundraising.
Every interaction you have should be an exchange of value. Tweet This Quote
I’m also writing this because I want to be able to be helpful to as many people as possible, and I plan to link this blog post to the “asking for coffee” emails I get in the future.
Finally, I’ll pledge that if you’re interested in working in the startup world, you read this post, and you send a GVAP styled email back to me at [email protected], I’ll definitely be able to respond and hopefully get you what you need.
A version of this post originally appeared on Medium.