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Author Topic: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)  (Read 2681 times)

Jenett

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Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« on: January 11, 2016, 06:02:55 pm »
So, for those of you who have reached out to make contact with someone - about an event, because you're looking for a group or a teacher or a mentor, any kind of one on one contact, what method would you use?

What methods would you think are reasonable? What kinds of stuff would you not be willing to share on a first contact? What kind of stuff do you think might be reasonable? What kind of stuff might you not share but you'd understand if someone asked?

(It depends on what you're asking about - the amount of detail about you someone needs if you want info about a public event is a lot different than if you're asking about substantial teaching - but feel free to talk about whatever parts of this interest you or is relevant to your own life.)

This question brought to you by the fact I got two text-to-email yesterday to the email address I use for group work stuff, saying, basically "I am a male solitary pagan in [town I live in], I'm interested. Please respond.'

My actual response was, roughly, asking "Can you email [address] with a name I can call you, a brief background on what you've done so far and what you're interested in, and we can go from there?" But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.

(More about my own thoughts later, but I'll note that he couldn't have found that email address without it having a fairly explicit "Here's what I find helpful in an initial contact" info.)
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 06:48:33 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185005
My actual response was, roughly, asking "Can you email [address] with a name I can call you, a brief background on what you've done so far and what you're interested in, and we can go from there?" But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.

Given how people look at me strangely because I don't text much, I suspect a lot of your bafflement is just that. I know I was shocked the first time I got a text from a complete stranger wanting to know if I had any openings in my D&D game. It's just not how I would have done it.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 07:47:00 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185005
So, for those of you who have reached out to make contact with someone - about an event, because you're looking for a group or a teacher or a mentor, any kind of one on one contact, what method would you use?

What methods would you think are reasonable? What kinds of stuff would you not be willing to share on a first contact? What kind of stuff do you think might be reasonable? What kind of stuff might you not share but you'd understand if someone asked?

(It depends on what you're asking about - the amount of detail about you someone needs if you want info about a public event is a lot different than if you're asking about substantial teaching - but feel free to talk about whatever parts of this interest you or is relevant to your own life.)

This question brought to you by the fact I got two text-to-email yesterday to the email address I use for group work stuff, saying, basically "I am a male solitary pagan in [town I live in], I'm interested. Please respond.'

My actual response was, roughly, asking "Can you email [address] with a name I can call you, a brief background on what you've done so far and what you're interested in, and we can go from there?" But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.

(More about my own thoughts later, but I'll note that he couldn't have found that email address without it having a fairly explicit "Here's what I find helpful in an initial contact" info.)

 
Well... in my case I made contact by attending an open, public ceremony that had been advertised on Facebook and then i networked from there.

It was a rather odd opening by this dude, I have to admit. Perhaps he is assuming that it's like Christianity, where the Churches are open to the public and people are encouraged to randomly drop in at Sundays, and just wants confirmation from you in the shape of "yeah sure, come by at six a clock and bring your friends" or something.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2016, 11:18:02 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185005
So, for those of you who have reached out to make contact with someone - about an event, because you're looking for a group or a teacher or a mentor, any kind of one on one contact, what method would you use?

What methods would you think are reasonable? What kinds of stuff would you not be willing to share on a first contact? What kind of stuff do you think might be reasonable? What kind of stuff might you not share but you'd understand if someone asked?

(It depends on what you're asking about - the amount of detail about you someone needs if you want info about a public event is a lot different than if you're asking about substantial teaching - but feel free to talk about whatever parts of this interest you or is relevant to your own life.)

This question brought to you by the fact I got two text-to-email yesterday to the email address I use for group work stuff, saying, basically "I am a male solitary pagan in [town I live in], I'm interested. Please respond.'

My actual response was, roughly, asking "Can you email [address] with a name I can call you, a brief background on what you've done so far and what you're interested in, and we can go from there?" But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.

(More about my own thoughts later, but I'll note that he couldn't have found that email address without it having a fairly explicit "Here's what I find helpful in an initial contact" info.)

 
I'm a little confused as to the actual question.

It seems that you somehow got your contact info out there in some method and that someone responded to you via one of the methods you made available.

I don't really get this text stuff (hey, I'm an old fart, and I'm lucky when I can figure out how to just answer phone calls) but I assume there are ways that folks can send emails/texts/whatevers to contacts methods you've left open.

So what is the problem?

The fact that someone unexpected was able to contact you via something you'd left open?

The fact that you just don't get these newfangled devices (lol I don't either!)?

The fact that someone out of the blue contacted you because they were looking to meet someone?

As far as what to do? Follow all decent safety protocols for both you/your group and the other party. Then meet up, if you're inclined, and see if you and they are compatible.
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Jenett

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2016, 06:54:25 am »
Quote from: Lionrhod;185127
I'm a little confused as to the actual question.


My basic question is curiousity about how people who reach out to a group go about it (what information they consider useful, what information they consider too invasive for an initial inquiry). Why?

I'm curious in general and this came up in my life, I'm curious if in this particular situation I want something unreasonable (I don't think so, but it's theoretically possible), and because I'm poking at revising some writing about initial contacts.

Quote
I don't really get this text stuff (hey, I'm an old fart, and I'm lucky when I can figure out how to just answer phone calls) but I assume there are ways that folks can send emails/texts/whatevers to contacts methods you've left open.


Allow me to explain the technical piece, then.

Texting allows one to send a brief message (the length depends on the carrier and phone used, but it is more a sentence or two at a time, not a paragraph or more) from one phone to another. It is also possible to send (through text-to-email gateways) to an email address.

My email address, is, yes, out there for this kind of contact.

But in this case, the person sent texts. The first tme, he sent two, which basically say what I quoted above: he is interested in group work and lives in my town, but without any other additional information. (And as I said, anywhere he would have found that particular email address, there is a note about what I find helpful in this kind of initial contact.

On a technical level, these showed up in my email box as two separate emails (unlinked, except that they share a sender address: they are not in the same email thread, and to see them together and see the entire sentence, I have to search for the string of numbers that is the sender's phone number rather than something like a name.)

I replied by email (since I did not wish to reply by phone: this would reveal *my* phone number, which is probably not hugely identifiable, but could theoretically be, plus I am really not a phone person with most people and do not look at texts reliably. I do not want random stranger having the number, anyway.)

What I said was "Could you please email [this address] with a brief background, what you're looking for, and a bit more detail?"

What I got was three more texts, providing a little more detail, but not much but which makes it fairly clear to me there is probably not a good fit, even without the technology misfit.

(When teaching, I do a bunch of long-form commentary by email, plus online reading is generally a thing, so this response by text is not just an issue at the start. I obviously can modify that, but I'm not very inclined to do so for someone whose comments make it fairly clear we're not a good fit, and as a single woman living on my own with chronic health issues, I'm not particularly inclined to meet random person when I'm really pretty sure I'm going to be telling them no.)

I haven't replied to him yet (had medical foo going on, and some family stuff). On the plus side, this may well motivate me to update the group work info for the first time since my move, so that's a thing.
 
But I remain curious on a) where other people who are group leaders draw the line on what's worth meeting and what isn't and b) on what people who are looking for groups consider overly invasive initial questions versus 'that's probably reasonable to figure out if we can meet' or how they handle differences in preferred technology. I think those are both interesting questions, y'know?
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2016, 08:41:34 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185137
My basic question is curiousity about how people who reach out to a group go about it (what information they consider useful, what information they consider too invasive for an initial inquiry). Why?

I'm curious in general and this came up in my life, I'm curious if in this particular situation I want something unreasonable (I don't think so, but it's theoretically possible), and because I'm poking at revising some writing about initial contacts.



Allow me to explain the technical piece, then.

Texting allows one to send a brief message (the length depends on the carrier and phone used, but it is more a sentence or two at a time, not a paragraph or more) from one phone to another. It is also possible to send (through text-to-email gateways) to an email address.

My email address, is, yes, out there for this kind of contact.

But in this case, the person sent texts. The first tme, he sent two, which basically say what I quoted above: he is interested in group work and lives in my town, but without any other additional information. (And as I said, anywhere he would have found that particular email address, there is a note about what I find helpful in this kind of initial contact.

On a technical level, these showed up in my email box as two separate emails (unlinked, except that they share a sender address: they are not in the same email thread, and to see them together and see the entire sentence, I have to search for the string of numbers that is the sender's phone number rather than something like a name.)

I replied by email (since I did not wish to reply by phone: this would reveal *my* phone number, which is probably not hugely identifiable, but could theoretically be, plus I am really not a phone person with most people and do not look at texts reliably. I do not want random stranger having the number, anyway.)

What I said was "Could you please email [this address] with a brief background, what you're looking for, and a bit more detail?"

What I got was three more texts, providing a little more detail, but not much but which makes it fairly clear to me there is probably not a good fit, even without the technology misfit.

(When teaching, I do a bunch of long-form commentary by email, plus online reading is generally a thing, so this response by text is not just an issue at the start. I obviously can modify that, but I'm not very inclined to do so for someone whose comments make it fairly clear we're not a good fit, and as a single woman living on my own with chronic health issues, I'm not particularly inclined to meet random person when I'm really pretty sure I'm going to be telling them no.)

I haven't replied to him yet (had medical foo going on, and some family stuff). On the plus side, this may well motivate me to update the group work info for the first time since my move, so that's a thing.
 
But I remain curious on a) where other people who are group leaders draw the line on what's worth meeting and what isn't and b) on what people who are looking for groups consider overly invasive initial questions versus 'that's probably reasonable to figure out if we can meet' or how they handle differences in preferred technology. I think those are both interesting questions, y'know?


I would recommend a book I just discovered that has helped me revamp the coven that I have become the HPS of.

The title is The Witch's Coven by Edwin McCoy.  Now, normally would not be recommending this particular author, however, she has wonderful suggestions on the initial interview questions both for the coven and the applicant. There are also  examples of ads that either a solitary or coven  can use on social media. I was very surprised and somewhat impressed  by McCoy's advice to both the individual and the grouPhouka

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2016, 11:44:12 pm »
Quote from: Phouka;185293

The title is The Witch's Coven by Edwin McCoy.  Now, normally would not be recommending this particular author, however, she has wonderful suggestions on the initial interview questions both for the coven and the applicant. There are also  examples of ads that either a solitary or coven  can use on social media. I was very surprised and somewhat impressed  by McCoy's advice to both the individual and the grouPhouka

 
Read it. And half a dozen others. (Author's name is Edain, for anyone Googling.)

I've personally found Judy Harrow's _Wicca Coven_ and Nick Farrell's _Gathering the Magic_ and Amber K's _CovenCraft_ all have some interesting bits in them among others, though a lot of my own approach (not unreasonably!) comes from the five or so years of experience I got answering initial emails, teaching Seeker (very low commitment intro) classes, and Dedicant classes in the tradition I'm now senior priestess in.

This is not my first time at this rodeo, in other words. Nor is my problem in having questions to ask.

My specific question in this post was "Okay, I'm getting a weird *method* of response, how do people who are currently looking for groups feel about this"

(Since I haven't, for complex life reasons, been seriously open for students for the past 5 years or so, and people's general communication methods have changed a lot over that time, and there's no reason that the Craft is different.)

And also wondering if the kinds of things I ask initially are perhaps too much. One of the things on my list for sometime in the next week is revamping the group site so it's more reflective of my current situation. (I did a really brief update when I moved 6 months ago, but it needs a better one.)

I'll post the link here when I do, so it might be easier to see what kinds of info I normally provide and what I ask for. (Might manage it tomorrow: I had a complicated week last week due to both personal and familial health issues.)
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2016, 01:13:07 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185299
My specific question in this post was "Okay, I'm getting a weird *method* of response, how do people who are currently looking for groups feel about this"

 
Possibly relevantly: my mentor recently put herself out as available for teaching and got a large response.  Most of them could actually read instructions, but there were a few who responded to a thing that said stuff like "Send replies to [email].  Do not message me on Facebook" by messaging on Facebook.

Some people either don't think that the directions apply to them, don't read them, or assume that their quick comment should be an exception.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2016, 02:51:59 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185005
But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.


 
I think I'm understanding your question right....


Texting is pretty common nowadays, even in a professional environment among professionals.

A request to have things sent by email is essentially telling that person that the issue isn't that important to you and you'll get around to reading and responding eventually.

The fact that the person texted you means they are immediately interested in communicating with you and they want to move forward as quickly as possible.

I'd structure your initial contact methods as something text-friendly, and leave the more in-depth stuff for either a phone call or a face to face. Email maybe after you have made contact for a little while, so that they know you're invested and not brushing them off.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2016, 04:42:04 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185299
My specific question in this post was "Okay, I'm getting a weird *method* of response, how do people who are currently looking for groups feel about this"

 
It feels very Craigslist as a method of response, and suggests to me that you and the person in question are on two different pages as far as looking for things. I could be biased by my CL experiences, but texting about something as serious as finding a teacher or a coven rubs me the wrong way. I expect it to be taken seriously in the same way a job interview is; if a job posting said I should text the hiring manager, I'd feel it was far too "friendly" an office for me.

In contrast to JB above, if I was looking to join a coven (and even when I'm looking at something as mundane as a social group at the UU church) I would prefer initial contact via email over phone or face to face. I'm much better at sorting out what I want to say in longform text, especially for a conversation as complicated as finding a teacher or joining a magical working group.

I don't think "willing to accept random texts" has become the standard in the last five years, no. ;P But you do probably want to restructure a contact page that hasn't been updated in that long, hopefully that'll help.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2016, 11:39:11 am »
Quote from: Jack;185304
It feels very Craigslist as a method of response, and suggests to me that you and the person in question are on two different pages as far as looking for things.


Hm. Maybe Jenett's person is actually considering it more as a Craigslist thing, because I also thought it was on the same level as a meet-up type thing (events, people, services) rather than the seriousness of a job interview (which, yeah, resumes certainly aren't text appropriate).

Different strokes for different folks.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2016, 12:57:11 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;185302

Texting is pretty common nowadays, even in a professional environment among professionals.


For some values of professionals - it's certainly not a norm in my field, for a couple of reasons.

(One is that libraries often skew older - enough so that for professional communication, there are still plenty of people who don't have a smartphone or want to type on a small keyboard - or in some cases can't, due to arthritis or vision issues.)

But another is that it's a more invasive contact (notifications at times you may not want them from random people, and actual texting requires exchanging of phone numbers) and that it doesn't leave much of a record of the conversation that is easy to access, unlike an email which can be easily searched, sorted (so the specific conversations go somewhere you can find them again)

Quote
The fact that the person texted you means they are immediately interested in communicating with you and they want to move forward as quickly as possible.


Quote

I'd structure your initial contact methods as something text-friendly, and leave the more in-depth stuff for either a phone call or a face to face. Email maybe after you have made contact for a little while, so that they know you're invested and not brushing them off.

 
Why should I be the one to make this change? Honest question.

This is someone who would like potentially like coven training and work with me - who, if I say yes, I will be committing to 3-5 hours of time most weeks, at minimum (some of it in actual time together, some of it in my prep time).

Who I would be inviting into my home (with all the related 'must actually clean the apartment before they come' pieces of that) for initial training that will take at least a year if all goes well, and probably more like 18-24 months from the first contact.

There are certainly things I would enjoy and get out of a teaching relationship (that's why I have done it in the past, and want to do it in the future). And, I hope, eventually, a coven relationship, because I *miss* doing the specific rituals of my tradition with other people.

But it's someone asking a fairly big ask of my time and energy.

I provide a fair amount of information up front about me, how I do things, and a lot of why - I don't think it's unfair to ask people to use a format that allows some discussion at a length more than a sentence or two to start out to see if we've got enough in common to make it worth setting up a face to face meeting.

(I don't do phone much, even with people I like a lot - and my current apartment has lousy reception.)

What this guy has given me, even after an explicit request for an email with more detail is, basically 4 sentences with no more detail about why he's interested in *my* tradition or practice than that I happen to live in a convenient location. That's not exactly making me push meeting him to the top of my to-do list.

Anyway, coven work is a process I have no interest in rushing into - it being a complex sort of relationship. And for my own reasons (I work full time, have chronic health issues, and I have, y'know, other commitments for my time, friends, and so on) - one where someone wanting to rush it sends up a big red flag about future boundary issues.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2016, 12:59:35 pm »
Quote from: Jack;185304

In contrast to JB above, if I was looking to join a coven (and even when I'm looking at something as mundane as a social group at the UU church) I would prefer initial contact via email over phone or face to face. I'm much better at sorting out what I want to say in longform text, especially for a conversation as complicated as finding a teacher or joining a magical working group.


Thanks, Jack, this is the kind of response I was really hoping for - feedback on what may or may not be current, and why.

(As I said above, I consider a potential coven or teaching interaction very much a sort of thing where taking it slow is optimal, and that rapid contact demands are a decided red flag. Plus some accessibility reasons that I'll be explaining in a little.)

Quote
But you do probably want to restructure a contact page that hasn't been updated in that long, hopefully that'll help.

 
I've done some updates more recently, when I moved, just haven't overhauled the whole method. Which I am about to do : will post in this thread when it's done, to see if anyone has additional comment.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2016, 01:36:30 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185316
Thanks, Jack, this is the kind of response I was really hoping for - feedback on what may or may not be current, and why.

(As I said above, I consider a potential coven or teaching interaction very much a sort of thing where taking it slow is optimal, and that rapid contact demands are a decided red flag. Plus some accessibility reasons that I'll be explaining in a little.)

From my standpoint, sending a text is less intimidating and fraught with worry and crushing self-doubt than an email. A phone call is right out, no chance in hell.

It has nothing to do with the seriousness of my inquiry or commitment...it's down to what's most comfortable for me.

Jus'sayin.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2016, 01:37:08 pm by Allaya »
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Juniperberry

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2016, 01:48:54 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185315
For some values of professionals - it's certainly not a norm in my field, for a couple of reasons.

(One is that libraries often skew older - enough so that for professional communication, there are still plenty of people who don't have a smartphone or want to type on a small keyboard - or in some cases can't, due to arthritis or vision issues.)

But another is that it's a more invasive contact (notifications at times you may not want them from random people, and actual texting requires exchanging of phone numbers) and that it doesn't leave much of a record of the conversation that is easy to access, unlike an email which can be easily searched, sorted (so the specific conversations go somewhere you can find them again)




 
Why should I be the one to make this change? Honest question.

This is someone who would like potentially like coven training and work with me - who, if I say yes, I will be committing to 3-5 hours of time most weeks, at minimum (some of it in actual time together, some of it in my prep time).

Who I would be inviting into my home (with all the related 'must actually clean the apartment before they come' pieces of that) for initial training that will take at least a year if all goes well, and probably more like 18-24 months from the first contact.

There are certainly things I would enjoy and get out of a teaching relationship (that's why I have done it in the past, and want to do it in the future). And, I hope, eventually, a coven relationship, because I *miss* doing the specific rituals of my tradition with other people.

But it's someone asking a fairly big ask of my time and energy.

I provide a fair amount of information up front about me, how I do things, and a lot of why - I don't think it's unfair to ask people to use a format that allows some discussion at a length more than a sentence or two to start out to see if we've got enough in common to make it worth setting up a face to face meeting.

(I don't do phone much, even with people I like a lot - and my current apartment has lousy reception.)

What this guy has given me, even after an explicit request for an email with more detail is, basically 4 sentences with no more detail about why he's interested in *my* tradition or practice than that I happen to live in a convenient location. That's not exactly making me push meeting him to the top of my to-do list.

Anyway, coven work is a process I have no interest in rushing into - it being a complex sort of relationship. And for my own reasons (I work full time, have chronic health issues, and I have, y'know, other commitments for my time, friends, and so on) - one where someone wanting to rush it sends up a big red flag about future boundary issues.

 
Then don't work with him? I don't understand what the problem is here.
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