Now that you’ve found a distant cousin, what’s the best way to get his or her attention? I’ve reached out to thousands of cousins as part of my mission to help build the biggest family tree in history and throw the Global Family Reunion in New York City June 6 (oh, and you’re invited—get the details here). Try these tips on how (and how not to) make that initial cousin connection:
- Admit that emailing a stranger to say you’re long-lost cousins is kind of weird. “I know this is surprising—it was to me as well—but I discovered through the FamilySearch website that I’m your fourth cousin.”
- Ask specific questions. For instance, “Are you related to the Charles Jacobs line?” Or “did you have any relatives that came from Krakow?” You’re more likely to get a response than with a generic “Hey, how you doing cuz?”
- Include a photo of your family or a potential common ancestor. People are much more likely to engage if they can see you. It humanizes you.
- If you don’t hear back on one channel (such as Facebook), you can try another. But that’s it. Two is the maximum. After that, you’re in stalker territory.
- Be sure to include your PayPal account info when you ask for money. Just kidding. Don’t ask for money.
- Invite your cousin to the Global Family Reunion.