Every day I get about 50 emails from people who try to get me to partner with them, use their services or hire them. I’ve been in business for 10 years and I’ve probably replied to maybe 1% of these emails. Last week, when one of my employees asked me how she could approach potential joint venture partners for a project she’s working on, I started thinking about the thousands of people who tried to approach me with offers and the 1% of them whom I actually took the time to reply to.

I realized that there were three things that the top 1% did that the other 99% didn’t.

Customize Your Message
Only 1% of the people who approach others with offers actually takes the time to know the people they’re writing to. They copy and paste the same email to hundreds of people. This is called spam and doesn’t work. Sure, if you send a million emails, someone will reply, but I can guarantee that the busiest folks won’t waste their time and those are the ones you want to work with.

In my case, if someone takes two minutes to read one of my blog posts and says something smart about it, he’ll be 90% in. Too bad most spammers prefer not to waste their valuable time on getting to know the rest of us a little better.

Give Something
The 99% group sent me emails asking me for something; the 1% group offered to give me something. Sure enough, after they offered to give me something, I ended up giving them a lot more in return. I just love working with people who think about how they could help me before thinking how I can help them.

Be Different
Five years ago I got a FedEx package with a letter that started like this: “I’m writing this letter to tell you why you DON’T want to work with me”. Wow, that really caught my attention. The reasons in the letter were along the lines of “I don’t follow some directions very well. If you ask me to stop working, I won’t be able to. It’s in me to keep working until my clients are happy. If this is a problem, PLEASE don’t hire me.” It was funny and different. It worked.