You suddenly get an email, LinkedIn or Facebook message, a DM on Twitter or, better still, a Whatsapp message regarding a life-altering project, conference or idea. You know the one: the train that only goes by once in a lifetime (even if you receive "life-changing messages" of the sort every day!). The thing is: this is the project of a lifetime if you're willing to do it selflessly. Oh well!
Answering a life-changing message
I offer you a series of tips, questions and issues to mention whenever a "life-changing message" arrives in your inbox:
1. Formality: "Thank you [person's name] for thinking of me for such an opportunity. I feel truly flattered. I find your proposal really interesting [that is, if you really find it interesting; otherwise, you're better off ending your message soon in a direct, yet polite and elegant manner.] I have a few questions that could help me to better understand it."
2. Intro: "What you propose sounds really good and I'm willing to get on board. However, in order to focus my energy on your idea I need something other than a simple goals-based incentive. I need to see that you believe in me as much as you say you do. What would you call that trust, interest and passion for me and my work?".
3. Attack: "If possible, I'd like you to get into the following issues in detail:"
- What can you offer me that can be of interest to me?
- How would this help me strengthen what I'm currently doing?
- What do you know about me?
- How do you know that what I do can strengthen what you're looking for?
- What would my goals be exactly?
- How will you assess whether or not I meet those goals?
- Besides what I stand to gain if I accept, what else would I gain if I meet the goals?
- What would be my specific objectives and responsibilities were I to become a part of your (company, event, etc.)?
- What is the duration of the project / idea / collaboration / workshops?
- What resources would be available to me (team, transport, expenses, equipment, budget, etc.)?
- Can I count on the people I work with?
- Can you send me a contract with everything we've talked about?
4. End: "I think that once these issues are clarified, if we're on the same page then we'll be able to get down to it and start whenever you're ready." (Here's where you include the final greetings).
There are two options after this. Firstly, you never hear from that person again. Secondly, they get back to you. If their answer has nothing to do with your questions or, simply, if they don't answer them directly, then you can politely say 'thanks but no thanks' and move on to something else. If they do answer specifically and to the point but you're not interested, then same again. Otherwise, if you're interested, get on with it!
This post is yours. Copy it, save it on your Evernote, on Del.ici.ous or in your notes. You can use it as a template whenever you feel like it. It will save you time and bother every time you get one of these life-changing messages.
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Photo credit: Sarah Topp.