I sometimes have the good fortune of receiving messages with more specific questions from people I don’t know.
Sometimes questions I never wrote anything about, sometimes questions I did write about and they’re asking for clarifications, and sometimes — unsolicited LinkedIn messages.
And you know what?
I love it.
I started Analysis Paralysis out of an intense desire to be an absolute monar… I mean have a positive influence on the life of those around me , I wanted to share my knowledge with others, and for me it was a way to compensate for not having someone like that when I just started out — I’m happy to know I’m affording others things I didn’t have.
And since I do it from what we can call a relatively altruistic (if there even is such a thing as altruism) motive, I’m sometimes rubbed the wrong way by the way questions are addressed.
I don’t want or need long and winding addresses, praising me and my writing or anything like that (though it is nice to know that whoever is messaging me has read something I’ve written), but I’m an old fashioned kind of guy, so maybe start with ‘hi’ rather than immediately launching into the question. Whenever someone’s first ever message to me is “so where’s the best place to study?” I can’t help but channel my inner Thanos and respond (in my head) “I don’t even know who you are.”
So today I’m going to teach you the Inigo Montoya method of contacting strangers-on-the-internet-we-need-or-want-to-have-an-interaction-with!
Wait, what is Inigo Montoya?
Not what – But who! (whom? oh, never mind)
In the movie “The Princess Bride” Inigo Montoya plans to avenge his father’s death, and he knows exactly what he’s going to say.
Inigo says he’ll approach that person and say “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die.”
I, and many (at least two) others think that’s an excellent way of starting a conversation with someone. Let’s break it down!
First, we greet!
“Hello” — a polite greeting. Can be substituted for “hi”, “howdy” or any other greeting.
Then, We present!
“My name is Inigo Montoya” — present yourself, very simply.
(notice that there’s no generic “how are you” and that’s fine. When you ask me how I’m doing I don’t think you’re interested in probing my mind and having a deep psychoanalysis session on why I feel regret over not saying a more sincere thank you to the guy who sold me cotton candy but because I didn’t have change he gave it to me for free, damn).
After that, we give context!
“you killed my father” — a short introduction on why I’m contacting you, who am I to you, who are you to me — a nice little way to establish context and prepare for the next phase.
Lastly, we set expectations!
“prepare to die” — what I want from you — whether it’s your time, learning from your experience or actually preparing you for your death. Be straightforward, you went a long way to get here, you did what you needed in terms of ceremony, now cut the bullshit and say what you were going to say.
Say I’m trying to recruit someone for my team — I found a candidate, Vermithrax, on LinkedIn which I think can be a good fit for the team I’m working with. Here’s how I will approach her:
My name is Analysis Paralysis, I’m the head of data for Analysis Paralysis org.
I looked at your profile and noticed that not only do you have a great professional record and high proficiency with Python, but also a keen appreciation of dad jokes.
I would be very happy to talk to you, tell you more about Analysis Paralysis and what we do and see if you’d be interested in joining us.”
Now, okay, Vermithrax will consider whether to even answer me, and that’s fine. She has a right to decide she’s not interested in continuing the conversation, because strangers on the internet don’t owe us anything.
Looking back, I responded to anyone who sent me a message. But when that message is phrased as a demand, or when I get a “you’re working for me” vibe, I promise my answers would be much shorter.
I don’t work for others, I have people work for me, okay?
Sorry. Got a little Paris Hilton-y there.
Anyway, respect whoever-you’re-addressing time.
Generally , respecting others is da-bomb.
Hope that makes your journey a bit better