Automation is a great thing. The fact that as a solo consultant I can have a global reach boggles my mind some days.

However, in this age when you can email hundreds or thousands with the touch of a button, I find myself leaning toward old-school tactics and reaching out to specific individuals with a customized “ask.”

Picking the right communication channel

I spend my days on the phone with clients. For that reason, I am the last person who will pick up the phone to call a connection or colleague.

However, this is something I will force myself to do more in the future. I think people are starved for real connection and buried under emails and texts.

For my social media folks, reaching out to them by Facebook messenger can work really well.

Today, I reached out via messenger to find a convenient time and jumped on a video call with a former client who I had been thinking about.

You need to know what communication channels your connections prefer. It’s best to follow their preferences even if yours are different.

Personalization needs more than a name

A few years ago when an email came with my name in the subject line or body text, I thought a real person was behind it and it caught my attention. Now, I don’t even notice it. In fact, my mind might immediately categorize it as spam.

What I do notice is when someone doesn’t do it right and something comes with “Dear FirstName” or other field tag.

Being generic won’t cut through

A year or two ago, reaching out through LinkedIn messaging was fairly effective. Now, with bots and all sorts of experts jumping into the space to help you with lead generation, people aren’t paying attention like they used to.

When reaching out on LinkedIn, using “Just checking in” or some other lame text in the subject line probably won’t work.

Instead, think of an interesting and compelling subject line like, “Face made for radio? Check out my new video!” If it’s funny, people might just click and read.

Be concise in your body copy, stating why you are reaching out and what you want. Be polite, but definitely get to the point quickly.

Consider sending messages out individually so you can include a personal detail or two about how you know the person, who suggested you reach out, what you did together the last time you saw each other, etc. This will make you look like a real person and not a bot. It also should help deepen your connection.

Micro targeting gets the results

The old-school tactic of reaching out individually to specific people with a customized, targeted message is what I see working now. People who are trying to take the easy route by blasting messages to all of their contacts or connections seem to get very limited results.

Often, people are getting response rates similar to direct mail. And yes, this can be very frustrating when you are reaching out to people you are already connected to!

In my experience, one-to-one connections have the best chance of leading to recommendations and referrals, which lead to paying clients. Going small can lead to big results.