R. Ann Parris on Writing A Good Contact Post


Writing A Good Contact Post by R. Ann Parris

On preppergroups.com, there are two basic types of posts we see most often as we cruise through checking the front page or searching by state/territory/region.

One is an individual “selling” themselves — whether truly an individual, or the point of contact for a family of 2-6. They’re primarily looking for a group or training, somebody to learn and share with. Somebody who becomes an “internet buddy” is a bonus in many cases.

The second type is usually an organization or established group reaching out for recruiting purposes. For all intents and purposes, this includes the patriarch or matriarch of a nuclear family of 3-8 or so who are well set-up, and looking for safety in additional numbers and-or specific skillsets.

A good post will include some basics, like preferred contact (an email, the private message system) and  the state and-or neighboring states inside easy driving distance where somebody is located or is interested in moving.

There’s a balancing act that takes place between being too brief in a post, and a post that’s cramped, long, and hard to read. Still, a good post also includes a few other goodies.

If there are requirements that have to be met, we need to include those.

That can take a range of forms. It could be allergies, “we’re already at the max number of dogs on the property”, a warning that farms have animals and animals have distinct smells and engage in outdoor sex, or a particular religious or political belief that the poster knows rubs people just in everyday life. Rather than waste time, if there’s a conflict, readers can immediately move on.

At preppergroups.com, unless you’re seeing discriminatory hate type things, we do just move on if a post doesn’t fit us — we don’t argue the points we disagree with. There’s a forum for that. If we do see some form of concerning information, we do not jump ourselves, we tag the admins with the link or title so they can deal with it.

Other requirements might be fitness levels and minimum standards for supplies.

A property owner’s post will also commonly include what kind of living arrangements might take place if they’re inviting people in, or specify that they’re looking for neighbors who could form backups nearby, not a live-in laborer.

Applicable skills lists help, too, whether we’re listing skillsets we’re actively seeking (or require), want to learn, or already have.

“Likeminded” is not a descriptive on its own. Sure, we’re all likeminded in one key way: We want to be prepared. For what and how prepared we want to be differ, sometimes irreconcilably.

We also all have political and religion/faith beliefs, and personal thresholds for how accepting we can be of other beliefs (those thresholds include intolerance of hatreds).

Likewise, there are general personality traits we have or are aware we don’t mesh with. They may or may not apply depending on whether we’re looking at ever potentially living in the same compound or under the same roof, just dealing with each other for a few days at a time to help at harvest and planting, only seeing each other at meals and periodic tasks, or only seeing each other for 8-12 hour work days most of the time.

If there’s a key set that isn’t going to work, we want to tell people about it. It just saves us both time.

Use an editing tool for primary posts.

Whether we’re selling ourselves to join a group, looking for training, offering experience or a retreat location, or trying to gather email buddies, excessive errors decrease the likelihood we’re going to hear from quality candidates.

Most sites (including preppergroups.com) include spelling and grammar cues in the post creation tools. We can also use our email as a word processor. Those red and green squiggly lines help us create posts that are readable.

I know specific cases of horrid typists and spellers who are brilliant, handy people. I will only read short emails from several of them.

Fair or not, reading posts (and long replies) filled with errors is going to start creating a mental image. It’s also sometimes impossible to even figure out what someone is saying. If it’s important enough to find a group or partner, it’s important enough to spend some time on.

The same general rules apply when replying to a post or offering contact via email/private messenger systems.

We might be a bit more concise, or we might take that opportunity to expound a little to see if we have a chance of being a good fit.

We’d be more concise yet if we’re replying on a chat or forum.

Either way, original post or reply, the main goal is to establish pretty quickly if this person/group is somebody we wish to further invest our time in. That requires including enough information without being overwhelming, and being able to convey that information over the keyboard.

It can make a big difference in the number of replies we receive, and the quality of those communications and potential partners.

  6 Responses to “R. Ann Parris on Writing A Good Contact Post”

  1. Your advice is well said. I have posted as the recruiter for a well established group with an excellent retreat site and been guilty of many of these flaws. 90% of the responders are lost in the followup emails because the list of requirements is lengthy so I don’t catalogue them in the initial post.

    The point I have a hard time selling is that the more a good group and retreat site have to offer, the more they can expect in return. The opposite is also true; the more a recruit has to offer to a group the more he/she can anticipate in a group. It’s sad but true that a thoracic surgeon can hold out for a better group and situation than a shipping clerk. The fewer standards and requirements a group has, the less they’ll likely have to offer in return.

    I’m often accused of being too discriminating but this is very personal to me. My wife’s life is hanging in the balance. Who I recruit and who I don’t is literally a matter of life and death. Men in particular get angry with me because they are healthy and have weapons & ammunition. They think that makes them special and valuable. It doesn’t. Those things are of course requirements but let’s face it, every guy has them. If he was infantry in the military that would be different. If he was Special Forces that would be even more interesting.

    Preps and even skill sets can be judged with metrics and are objective but you were wise enough to mention personality conflicts as an issue. Judging people is never easy nor is it a precise science. What do I say in a post about that: no hot heads allowed? OPSEC doesn’t allow me to reveal too much at the beginning stages so I can’t include a lot of important information until later stages.

    You’ve done a very credible job with an impossible subject. But it’s complicated; very complicated. The question about what to reveal and when to reveal it has as many answers as there are people. You’ve done as good a job as I think anyone could have. Thank you for the time you put into this. I hope it has a wide readership.

    If you want to discuss this further HMU @
    [email protected]

    • I hate that you run into pushback. I’ve seen the flareups, over the person with a gun who thinks M&P tactics are all they should need, as well as the … I’m going to call it “older set”, mature people of 40-50+ … and those with small children who huff and grumble at the physical skills, and huff and grumble when an OP specifies that they’re looking for physically able, younger people or throw in the clause that they’re not interested in people with infants/toddlers.

      Sometimes it relates to a specific plan where they feel those won’t keep up. Sometimes it’s that they/the group is mostly 45-50+ if not 60+ and they HAVE stuff but what they need is somebody who is able to handle the midnight watches and hard labor.

      There’s other skills that make them valuable, but we forget the village concepts, from the medieval castles and knights supported by crofters to the natives of all continents, and I would guess we forget what ratios they require and-or forget that somebody may ALREADY have the “other” skills and populace of those villages, and are specifically looking to fill voids.

      It’s tough to actually get people to recognize their own traits, but, honestly, the “no hotheads” might be a viable add. 🙂

      Cheers – RA

  2. Good post, thanks! I have seen group after group after group fail (some were my own) because of what you listed.

    If your group communicates via email, like most do, how well you can use the English language, in conjunction with use of modern tools like email and forum private messages, is absolutely a valid discriminator. As you said, it may very well NOT be an indicator of ones intelligence, rather life experiences and background. But it does tell you a lot about those areas, doesn’t it?

    We all make mistakes, typing or otherwise. But there’s a big difference between “We’re going to there facility” and “wre gong 2 that they faculty.”

    There are “easy lessons” (lessons you can learn from others) and “hard lessons” (ones you have to learn on your own) and one of the “hard lessons” I’ve learned is that focusing on recruiting SKILLS (“Need a SF medic!”) is a path to failure. The first criteria must be some kind of mutual trust. Skills can always be taught or learned together as a group, provided the mutual interest exists. But without trust, there is nothing. And if you figure out how to recruit trust, please let me know!