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What's in it for them guys, WIIFT, never forget it!

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Many social relationships can be seen as big exchanges.

For dating, there is a sexual marketplace, and for social relations, there is a social marketplace.
Exchanges become all the more salient when you don't have an established relationship (ie.: friendship, intimate relationship, blood lines, etc.)

But when you're reaching out to strangers, it always pays to see it as an exchange.

Learn the rules, and you will be immensely more effective and successful at life.
On top of never coming across as awkward, annoying. But like a guy who "gets it" and who people want to have around.

WIIFT is also called "What's in it for me", often abbreviated as WIIFM, and it means that you are putting yourself in the other person's shoes and you seek to make the exchange worth their while.
When you take a WIIFT perspective, you see to give something back for whatever you are asking, and you make it incredibly more likely that you'll get what you're asking -and if not, you won't come across as some socially-thick guy who just asks-.

WIIFM is not "cold", it's the opposite: people who get the exchange nature of relationships have far better human relationships.
Because they think about others, too.
About other people's needs and wants.

Look at this example:

WIIFM email example

Probably 70% of the emails I receive, people forget the WIIFM part.

So don't be like most people: always remember what's in it for them, the most important part.

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KellvoMatthew WhitewoodSocial_Strategist#1DMnaathh12@gmail.comDeleted useroccamLeonardo F MacielselffriendSerena IrinaLorenzoECoasteva123Power DuckLukeGan-tebi
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Here is another bad example.

She wants to be added to my list of best free book summary websites.

She forgot that she already reached out to me, and that we already talked about it, and that I said "no" because it wasn't a free resource.
So she hits me again with one of those BS precompiled emails.

So I remind her she does not qualify:

bad reach out email example

And of course, she ends up with the icing on the cake: what's in it for her.

With cold email reach outs, and when you are the asker, it always pays off to find an angle that benefits the receiver. Or, at the very least, not to make it too blatant about what you are going to gain. Because that way it feels like you're putting work on the receiver's plate that is going to benefit you. And you do it with total disregard for the receiver's work and time, which always feels aggressive and insensitive.

Furthermore, with cold reach outs, it always pays off to make it simple and intuitive for the receiver.
With a cold reach out, you are a nobody to the receiver. If you approach him with what's in it for you, plus you put all the cognitive load on him... What's his incentive to work for you?
On top of coming across as selfish, it also says that you're a lazy fuck who's tasking him.
You become a nuisance.

If we had to further dissect her email, her "actually" it's also wrong.
It's as if she was saying:

Actually... You're wrong.
Because now... (look at this how wrong you are).

The correct way of doing would have been to say something like:

Hi Lucio,

You're right.
Last time we spoke indeed it was indeed not free.

Luckily, in the meanwhile, we changed tack, and now... (brief description on what's changed and why now it's releveant for my article and my audience).

BTW: we're happy to link back to you man, we love your work (WIIFM).

They sell business book summaries.
Yet they understand little about the people who fuel those businesses.

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Social_Strategist#1MusicforthejuanDeleted userRiley ThomasoccamLeonardo F MacielSerena IrinaleaderoffunLukespecific_entropy
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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 14, 2020, 9:43 am

Here is another bad example.

She wants to be added to my list of best free book summary websites.

And of course, she ends up with the icing on the cake: what's in it for her.

With cold email reach outs, and when you are the asker, it always pays off to find an angle that benefits the receiver.

Hi Lucio,

I love and agree with your point here.

The slight caveat to persuasion is that it doesn't work as well if the reward you're offering them to help you is more of a reward from your perspective than it is from theirs.

For example, what if they had more consideration for your time and energy and as an incentive to add them to your list, they offered you a free pack of their branded pencils.

It may seem like a good reward for helping them through their eyes, but not so much to you.

When doing a cold reach out via email, how do you effectively find out what the other person wants so you can offer them a reward they would actually appreciate?

Not only that, to this day I still tend to do favors for others where there is no clear benefit to myself if I'm doing that favor for someone who is ahead of me in the game. I justify it as an "investment into our professional relationship" in the hopes that if I ever need a favor they will feel more inclined to help out in the future.

In other words, if Dan Bilzerian asked you for a small favor, would you do it as an investment into your relationship when there is no clear benefit to yourself? Are there exceptions to this WIIFT/WIIFM frame?



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Deleted useroccamLeonardo F MacielAhmmiajaymoz89specific_entropy

Another example of WIIFT failure:

WIIFM failure example

When you ask something, you need an answer, and you are making a demand on someone's time.
That puts you in debt.
Ideally, you want to make up for it and give some value so that the social capital becomes neutral, positive or, at least, less negative. A compliment, albeit very cheap, is an easy way to help make up for the difference.

So he could have said:

Hey man, your article was so insightful!
There is just this thing I'm not sure about...

And, as a rule of thumb, the more in debt you are, the easier you want to make for them to reply.

The person in question here does a few major mistakes:

  1. He does not realize he's in debt
  2. He makes no effort to rebalance the relationship
  3. He makes it complicated for me to reply
  4. He asks me to take action for him (poor understanding of power dynamics as well, not just social dynamics. What am I, your dog who's waiting around for your next command?), Deleted user and 6 other users have reacted to this post.
naathh12@gmail.comDeleted userRiley ThomasoccamLeonardo F MacielSerena IrinaLukeuzielz
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If for you it's important to talk to someone and the relationship is obviously one where you ask, they reply, it's important that you also show you are willing to chip in something.

For example:

  • Invite them to lunch / dinner, and make it obvious you're inviting them
  • Tell them you'd be happy to pick them up at the airport
  • Propose that you will get them into some cool places / clubs you got exclusive access

Common mistakes:

  • "I wanna pick your brain" = you will give me your time, sit there and answer all my questions (while I give you nothing)
  • "Let's have a coffee" = in the middle of the day, right when you're probably working, let's shoot the shit while I ask you a ton of questions. And just in case I'll decide to pay, it will be cheap for me (that's what's your input is probably worth, anyway)

Here is the latest example of WIIFT failure:

WIIFT failure exampleNot only it doesn't offer anything in exchange, but this one feels like he wants to interrogate me. People don't like being "bombarded" with questions.

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Social_Strategist#1Deleted useroccamLeonardo F MacielSerena Irinauzielz
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Remember the two main tenets of WIIFT:

  • Rebalance the relationship by giving something back (or at least showing you know they are doing you a favor)
  • Make it easy for them

Changing your local time to their local time is another small way of making it easy for them.

Same person from the last example.
See if you can spot the mistakes and what he could have done better:

WIIFT failure text example

  1. He could have framed the call as "ideas exchange", because he also might have valid inputs. Instead, he frames it as me giving all the inputs
  2. Asks again for that old topic of online courses, making it feel like I'm being chased for information
  3. Asks for a time within his time zone, putting the onus on me to adjust to his time zone

Understanding these dynamics is very important.
This is actually a cool guy, I like him! He's a confident public speaker, a former professional poker payer,  impeccably well-dressed and groomed, and he's very well connected in the self-development / public speaking crowd. He is also a family man and seems to have strong values that he lives by. In many ways, he's a very high value man.
But he is failing to understand basic social dynamics. And because of his failure to understand basic social dynamics he goes from high value to a nuisance.

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Social_Strategist#1DMDeleted useroccamLeonardo F MacielSerena Irinauzielz
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Hi Lucio,

I really like how your notes on WIIFT delve into the unseen and unwritten factors of social exchanges that most people don't take the time to think about when fielding their requests. It's really helping me advance my understanding of how to balance my social exchanges.

Your earlier post on WIIFT has a case of a lady seeking to be added to your list of best free book summary websites. I could use some insight as to why you chose to stop emailing.

A negotiation strategy I just learned (once again from the negotiation and persuasion course from Yale) is "Never Say No". In other words, let the other side say no to you by making an offer the other side might reject, but that you'd be happy to take.

Ex: Imagine you're unhappy in your job and decide to quit. Instead of just quitting, come up with a package that would entice you to stay. Let the firm say no to you. The worst that can happen is they say no and you leave. But you were planning on doing that anyway. On the other hand, they might say yes.

In your case, what caused you to decide to stop emailing as opposed to making an offer that would entice you to add them to your list?



*For anyone who reads this post and is interested in applying the "Never Say No" negotiation strategy, please take into account that if someone makes a proposal that violates your ethics, then just say no. Ethics aren't negotiable.

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Social_Strategist#1Deleted userSerena Irina

Hi Ali!

Lucio here, not logged in and writing from mobile.

I like that idea a lot, it has a lot of benefits, including no downsides and lots of potential upsides (you gotta love opportunities with no costs).

However, when the upside is not that big one should also consider: is it worth it coming up with a proposal, discussing it, and then implementing?

With smaller transactions, "take it or leave it" saves time and effort. Most of your life's negotiations are take it or leave it. All the shopping you do is a series of take it or leave it. Structuring deals as take it or leave it also allows you to scale.

In that case, I valued time more than perfect negotiation. And there was an emotional component, too: I don't exactly love spending too much time with those who show that type of attitude.


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Social_Strategist#1Deleted userSerena Irina

If you have read some of the previous examples, you probably already know what are the pros and cons of this cold reach out:


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Examples of WIIFT failures are more abundant than water, aren't they 🙂

This is because it's a basic rule of social exchanges.

Yet, some of its applications can be advanced, so it's easy to trip on it.

Here's a new case study:

In this case, he first tries to spin the "beta testing" like he's offering me value ("invite you" -yeah, thanks!- and "help you to achieve your most important goals" -nothing less- 🙂

But then falls out of frame when he says "I'd appreciate your feedback", which asks me to expend effort and provide him with value.

Both options would have been poor anyway, because:

  1. Trying to spin a value-taking request into value offering is manipulative -and weak sauce-
  2. Tasking and asking for a relatively big effort without making any effort to rebalance the relationship is typical WIIFT failure

Better option? In this case, ask as a friend!

I know this guy, he's a friendly chap, we sometimes talked about motorbike racing -albeit he hated Valentino Rossi, so not cool :)-.

He could have been far more successful leveraging our relationship and being frank about it.
Something like:

Hi Lucio,

I hope you're good man, I've heard you've been globetrotting. Nice going man!

Me and X just launched this new cool startup and maybe it can be helpful for your business -love what you're doing by the way!-. In any case, you're a great guy, so if I can get your feedback on this, man.... I'd be forever grateful 😀

A bit of a cheeky approach with the "forever grateful", using irony. But it shows that he knows this is a value-asking reach out, and, albeit jokingly, he makes an effort to give back some social credit.

I might have still not done it, but we would have kept a better relationship.
Right now, it feels like he tried to manipulate me into a fake value-giving to get a beta tester for free.

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