Today I received an email asking me to buy someone’s services. They went to the trouble of personalizing their email pitch by using my name – it was even spelled correctly. All great until I go to the second sentence where they referenced my company, “XXX Bank”. Um, no, I do not work there and I don’t work in anything related to banking. So just like that, they lost all credibility before I even gave them a chance. No clue what their offer was because I automatically tuned out.

Now let’s look at the flip side. A few hours later, I received a cold call. The person on the other end of the line grabbed my attention by a show of enthusiasm and quickly referenced a client I work with – info that was available on my LinkedIn profile. So I had a bit of respect going into the conversation and entertained the offer he was presenting. In my book, effort deserves consideration.

Think of this in terms of recruiting. Take a couple minutes to look at who you are talking to and prep before you enter into a conversation. If you are reaching out to a potential candidate to garner interest, just take a couple minutes to personalize your message. It may be as simple as discovering you are alumni of the same college and use that as a reference point. Or on the topic of college, is their school in the midst of the NCAA tournament? That can be a great conversation starter. The point is, you made the effort to do more than pull their name from a database and shoot out an auto message.

First impressions are worth a lot. Give it your best shot and differentiate yourself out of the gates. The power of personal messaging can be so great, but only when done well – with quality and thought.