trying to send email from nc

nc smtp.gmail.com 587
HELO there
250 mx.google.com at your service
STARTTLS
220 2.0.0 Ready to start TLS
MAIL FROM:<junk@example.com>

connection dies..

whats wrong with the protocol im using??

I'm not completely sure, but I don't think you can use TLS over netcat. You'll need something to handle the SSL/TLS connection. It looks like you can do this with something like 'gnutls-cli' or even the 'openssl' client. This might be what you're looking for:

example using openssl
example using gnutls-cli

I hope this helps!