Some people still don’t get the permission thing

I was listening to WNYC radio yesterday, and they were talking about the California ban on spam (mostly a full-employment bill on behalf of lawyers, but every little bit helps.) What amazed me was that after all the hoopla and five years after Permission Marketing, a lot of people still don’t get the idea that you’re not in charge any more.

One person called in with this quandary, “I try to raise money for my companies, and I sometimes find myself sending fundraising proposals to venture capitalists by email. Most of the VCs are in California, so would I be breaking the law if I sent these–they’re unsolicited.”

Now, of course, it’s unlikely that someone at Kleiner Perkins is going to sue this guy for sending an unsolicited offering by email, but I think that’s beside the point. The real issue is this: What chance is there that someone at Kleiner is going to read an unsolicited investment proposal and then actually fund it?

The truth that so many people are missing is this: Just because you CAN get to someone by email doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Cold calling is a bad way to build a business. Cold calling in an electronic medium is even worse. Without the friction that comes from buying a stamp or printing some images or writing a letter worth reading, the recipient doesn’t value your ideas enough to do something of actual value.

What should this guy do? He should work the network. He should find someone sufficiently impressed with his idea (a friend or a colleague) that he gets connected with a legitimate introduction to someone who can help him. Or he should send a Fedex that’s enticing enough that it gets a response by email. Or he should use a socially acceptable interruption technique like advertising (gasp!).

Sorry to go on and on, but hearing this guy (and not being able to respond because they never book me on this show) was incredibly frustrating.

If someone doesn’t want to hear from you, then that’s the end of the discussion. You don’t win by barging through doors. You win by spreading ideaviruses that reach the people you need to reach.