Nobody cares about you!

Today, a good friend of mine came to me, asking for my help. She had just applied to an internship, her dream position at a fast growing startup in New-York. After sending a very lengthy and cautiously written email detailing her brilliant education, her personality and her motivation, she got the following answer:
This is really interesting, but we don’t do less than a year.
Translate: “I couldn’t care less.”

The Common Trap

How rude! At least that’s what I would think if I received such an answer. Let’s take a quick glance at the email she sent him (small tip: you don’t have to read everything to see where I’m coming from):
Hello XXXX! I am writing to you now because I would really (really) love to do a brand & business development internship at XXXX this fall. I am available to intern full-time from August 2015 to January 2016, according to your needs.

I am a French student, a year and a half away from receiving my double degree in business and public affairs from School1 and School2 and I would love to enter the start up world through a very fast-growing start up, both tech and fashion oriented. Being a woman in a world where the brand name accounts for more than half the price and where the industry seems endlessly lead by few retailers, I feel strongly about this “revolution” you are launching. Your success is impressive and I would focus all my energy and my knowledge in marketing, communications, partnership management and business development on helping you achieve your ambitious goals.

Even if it would be my first experience in the start-up industry, I have a dynamic and entrepreneurial mind, I’m very curious and I have energy and initiative to get things done. Working at XXXX, a small but influential consulting company, I learned to understand the overall business model and market landscape, and had real responsibilities on projects of importance (Project1 and Project2). My marketing internship at XXXX enabled me to get acquainted with social media and web marketing, and taught me the importance of detail and of being well-organized in everything I’m doing. And after two internships in the public sector, where I really improved my analytical skills, I discovered that I could only see myself working in the dynamic and exciting start-up world, the only one really planning to change how things work (at least in my opinion).

Working with you would really be my dream internship and I feel that I could learn a lot from a successful and driven entrepreneur like you. Please find my résumé attached and please let me know if there is anything else I could do! Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you soon,

Best, 

XXXX

This is a pretty common email, you see a lot of these when you screen resumes and cover letters. The thing here is that my friend fell into a trap. She made one of the most common mistakes we make when trying to convince other people. She only talked about herself. She didn’t put herself in the other person’s shoes.

As Henry Ford said: ‘If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own’. I know, it sounds obvious. So why do we keep forgetting about it? The truth is that we’re only interested in us, and that it makes us blind to other people’s problems.

Let’s Trade Shoes

Let’s do our homework and put ourselves in this guy’s shoes. He is the CEO of a fast-growing business, he probably has a thousand problems. He needs to increase his company’s revenue, to avoid running out of cash, he has to deal with angry customers, his advisors are pressuring him, his employees are being poached, and he probably doesn’t have enough time to see with his family so tell me, why would he care about you?

My friend wants to get hired. She wants to go to New-York and experience the life of a startup in a fast-paced environment. She wants to be part of something that matters. But you know what? No one cares, except her. 

Nobody Cares About You

The only way to interest people is to tell them about what they want, not what you want. If you’ve done your homework, you know all there is to know about his business. Why not tell him about this new venture he’s launching and how you coud be useful to it? Why not show him how your specific skills could solve his specific issues?

You need to focus on his wants and needs, not yours. Don’t waste anyone’s time talking about yourself. As Dale Carnegie puts it in his best-selling book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’:

“First, arouse in the other person an eager want “.
And then go get them.

PS: miracles happen, or so it seems. After hearing my advice, here’s what my friend sent back to the guy:

Dear XXXX, Thank you very much for your quick reply ! I realize my previous email might have missed the point : I know you’re busy and I am sorry if I wasted your time with all this information about me. I have a lot of admiration for what you’re currently trying to achieve with your company. I know that high-growth businesses face a lot of issues, including scaling their infrastructure and business model. You are close to launching your second venture and I would love to have an opportunity to talk about how I could contribute to this project. Could we schedule a call with you or anyone inside your team when there is some time? Thank you so much for your time and have a great day!
XXXX
I told her that she shouldn’t expect anything back, but a few minutes later, look at what she received:
 Now we’re talking 🙂
 Let’s schedule a call soon.
 M
Game on.