A few days ago, on my Instagram stories, I went on a bit of a rant. I was talking about an email I sent to a couple who run a print and design business, like myself. They are in business about 9 or 10 years but I would still consider them to be pretty 'small' in the grand scheme of things. From what I've noticed since following them, they seem very nice and grounded and down to earth.
But nobody really knows anybody on social media, do they?
In my email, I gave them my background story, warts and all, and asked them for advice. Advice on setting up a print business, do's and don't's, possible shortcuts or maybe things I hadn't thought of doing that they discovered through experience. A helping hand. A bit of mentorship. I was essentially reaching out for guidance, I didn't think it was too much to ask.
I had the email written and ready to go in the middle of December but I decided to wait until after the New Year to send it to them. In my head I was thinking they would be too busy before Christmas to see it. When I eventually sent the email in early January, I wasn't expecting a reply straight away. But I was expecting something. I had said that if they weren't interested in responding, or if they were too busy, to let me know either way with a brief reply. Of course this was just a courtesy because I fully expected a response. Was I wrong to expect that?
I sent a follow up email a full two weeks later - 'I'm not sure if you've seen my previous email....very busy...if at all possible...if not, please let me know' - and again, I was ignored. This time I was very put out. I would never ignore someone in my shoes who reached out to me looking for advice. In fact I would be honoured that they considered me worthy to share my experience. I told my Instagram followers my story and left a poll for people to let me know what they thought. Was I being unrealistic or were they being rude? The overwhelming response was (and I was so glad to know) people agreed with me.
I had a few of those people message me and say that companies get so many emails a day that it's hard to filter through the genuine ones. The email response rate is about 2%. I wasn't cold-calling (or the email equivalent) these people. If they read the first few lines they would know straight away that I was genuine. And also, they get a lot of actual orders through email so if their response to those is 2% then I don't expect them to be in business much longer.
Maybe they genuinely were too busy. Maybe they just didn't like the competition.
I'm facing the fact that I was not worth replying to and that makes me really sad. Not just because I'm not getting their help, there are so many other people I can contact. But because society has taken a turn for the worst. Of course you are going to look after yourself and your family, first and foremost. But if I had the opportunity to help a fellow small business then I would jump at the chance, and I was just very disappointed to learn these people didn't have the same mentality.
"We rise by lifting others" - Robert Ingersoll