Send Me Your Stuff is when you send so much content over email (or any messaging) that the other person doesn’t know what to say. You explained it in overwhelming detail but there’s no intelligent response the other person can craft. You have done a great job of explaining every detail but it’s too much for them. They reached out to you because you have something or know something they don’t. That’s the gap. They asked a very open question and you gave an overwhelmingly large response. You were very clear and thorough but nothing happens. The conversation is dead. It’s crickets. The person has a huge email sitting in their inbox; they tried to read it but they can’t respond. If you are lucky, they’ll say “I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to this yet” or “this is interesting” but the conversation is actually over.
Instead, craft an email which starts a dialogue or a relationship. Don’t provide the answer, provide support. Don’t answer the question, acknowledge the problem and offer guidance. Yes, you can do that and if you’d like to talk further let’s set up a time to chat. No, you can’t directly answer their question right now but you’d like to hear more about their project so you can tailor your response to their needs.
We can pick any dense subject but as an example, someone asks you “What is the best programming language”. They are forming a team and they want to hire some developers. There are a million ways to answer this question. Maybe you’ve answered this question many times. Maybe you are tired of the explaining it. They don’t know that. They don’t know how complex the question is.
The wrong type of email to send:
This is a hard question to answer but I’ll try anyway. If you are doing a mobile app, you probably want to hire a few …
[ several pages of content ]
Instead of that, send this:
Let’s find a time to chat about hiring and the technical landscape. We can look at some industry surveys and talk about what the different sweet spots and communities are like. This will probably take about two hours depending on the detail. We can start with a short 30 minute meeting to talk about things at a high level but the additional conversations will probably get you primed for hiring a recruiter and making a job description.
Send Me Your Stuff is not my idea. I heard it explained by Sara Batterby who was doing business and fund-raising consulting. I loved the fact that her talk had nothing to do with my job and yet, I find this idea hauntingly applicable. I make this mistake constantly. I can give you a list of topics and replies I’ve messed up but that’s probably not interesting. I’ve even prefixed long email responses by saying “I don’t want to do Send Me Your Stuff” (and then explaining what this is) and then puting an inevitable but statement and doing it anyway. I get the email equivalent of the sweat smile every time.
Send Me Your Stuff can apply to requests for repos, code, project zips, brain-dumps, best practices, portfolios, design schematics or almost anything. Whatever they are asking for, don’t send exactly and completely what they want. Send a symlink.