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Is it ok to add networking contacts to my newsletter list

Feb 5, 2017 | e-newsletters, Vee's blog | 4 comments

This year I’ve made it my mission to get out more and meet people face to face. If you’ve been following me a while, then you’ll know I moved to Egham a little over a year ago. I’ve moved from Watford, Hertfordshire (north of the airport) to Surrey (south of the airport)! I’m no stranger to networking. In fact I’m a big advocate of networking. Networking is a great way to make new connections and find clients. However, I am a stranger in these parts. So I felt it’s the right time to make new friends in this new neck of the woods. I’ve visited a few now and I’m booked in for one a week for the next couple of months.

You’ve been spammed

I’ve noticed that I’m receiving a few new newsletters in my inbox. Apparently I’ve been added to the newsletter lists of some of the people I’ve met at the meetings I’ve been to. OK, they’re not strangers. I have met them at the networking meetings I’ve been to. We’ve exchanged business cards. They legitimately have my details. But does that give them an automatic ‘right’ to add me to their newsletter list? No, it doesn’t. They didn’t ask my permission or even warn me that’s what they were going to do.

Just because we exchanged cards, spoke briefly about who we are and what we do. Maybe we even had a conversation. That doesn’t mean I’m actually interested in being added to their newsletter list. I’m precious about what I sign up for – it’s my inbox  and it’s over-flowing as it is!

And I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.

Don’t get me wrong, newsletters and email marketing are great for keeping in touch with your audience. Newsletters and email marketing is one of my things that I help clients with. But there’s a right and wrong way of doing it.

The Implications

Most email marketing tools have a permission based policy. When you upload contacts manually you have to verify that you have the individual’s permission to do so. The permission-based email policy to protect you and them from spam reports and potentially being shut down.

Popular tools like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Drip – they all operate with this policy to protect their mail servers. If there are too many spam reports as a result of one client’s emails, then their servers are blacklisted by the spam filters and that affects the reputation and deliverability for all their clients’ email campaigns. So you can see why they’re precious about the status of the contacts you upload.

The Wrong Way – What it feels like

To demonstrate probably what a lot of people feel like when they get an unsolicitored email newsletter, I’m going to talk about a specific newsletter I just recently received.

My first instinct was – who’s this? It took me more than a few seconds to remember who the person was and where we had met.

Second thought – what is this? I open it. It’s a newsletter! So now I recall speaking with the person but I know for sure we never spoke about newsletters, so definitely didn’t have my permission! Now I’m thinking ‘what a cheek!’

Third thought – why’s this been sent to me? There’s no personal note or explanation. There’s nothing in the newsletter that relates at all to what we spoke about. I’m feeling somewhat negatively about this person now. Because of this I’m unlikely to refer them either.

I’m ready to hit unsubscribe and delete.

Probably not the result this person wanted.

The Best Practice Way

You’ve invested in time and money in attending networking events to gain new contacts. Newsletters are definitely a good way to keep in touch with them. But adding people indiscriminately to your email newsletter list is bad. So what is the correct way to add them to your list?

Who do you want on your list anyway?

Your list is precious. You likely pay a subscription to your email marketing tool provider and so every person needs to earn their place there. They should be people who want to be there. People who are likely to turn into clients or refer you to their contacts who might turn into clients. They’ll be people who fit your ideal client profile. You don’t want people who aren’t likely to ever buy from you taking up a valuable place on your email list. So step 1, be discerning about who you invite to be on your list.

Get permission.

That permission can be verbal at the time you speak to them at the event. It might be that as you’re speaking and they’re expressing an interest in what you’re saying, asking the right questions so you drop in that you do a weekly/monthly newsletter, you can add them if they’d like it.

But even then you need to be careful to distinguish between polite interest and real interest. Ultimately you don’t want to contaminate your list with people who are not fits to your ideal client profile and never likely to buy from you.

Follow up

The best way is to follow up.

It might be that you follow up by phone, in which case you can ask as part of your conversation. Or you might follow up by email or message app via LinkedIn.

Do a personal email or message linking to something of value first. Like a link to an article/blog post (ideally something you wrote) that relates to something you talked about. You could then explain that you write about this a lot and if they’re interested, then you’d love to add them to your newsletter. And wait for them to respond.

If they are a good fit, then they’ll likely respond and say yes please. If they’re not a good fit, they probably won’t respond.

This way you’ve respected their time and contact details. You only get genuinely interested people on your list. No-one is left feeling offended.

In Conclusion

So what did I do with the newsletter I received? As newsletters is my thing, I decided to investigate further. At the bottom was a link to their privacy policy. The company this person represents seem to be a fairly large organisation as they actually have their own privacy policy. And what do you think? First paragraph declares that ‘xxxx is not a source of unsolicited email‘. Really!?!

What about you?

Do you ever get unsolicited newsletters from people you’ve met at networking events? Did they get your permission first? How did it make you feel? Or are you the unwitting perpetrator? I’d love to know. Let me know in the comments below.



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  1. Caroline

    Thanks for this Vee. Really useful and helpful. I have been in a dilemma for a while about other methods of building my list other than offering a freebie. I have received other conflicting advice but have held back when it comes to adding business card contacts automatically. I am glad my gut instinct is right!

  2. Sherry

    Great article Vee. I’d be really hacked off if somebody added me to their list without explicit permission. And if I’m not their target audience, what’s the point anyway. Loved your thoughts on how to follow up with professionalism and integrity.

  3. Jessica

    This is really helpful Vee. And great insight on how it feels to be spammed from a receivers point of view. I will be employing your tips on active subscription going forwards.

  4. Vee Smith

    Thanks Jessica, glad it’s a useful post

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