Solicitor: Can I call you?
Me: Maybe. I don’t know. What do you want to talk to me about?
Like many of you I spend a lot of time working on my personal brand. I’m selective with who I network with at work and in the marketplace.
I am an active member of organizations which strengthen my position professionally and reflect me personally. I use social media to widen my net of opportunities.
It is a powerful tool that has taught me to be particular with what I share, where I share and who I share it with. From a professional standpoint, there’s no social network I use more than Linkedin. And while having 3,764 connections and counting might not seem very selective…there is a method to my approach.
As in a previous article I wrote on asking for help in finding the next job: I Can’t Help You…, success in soliciting new business is determined by one’s ability to be hyper focused.
Time is a precious commodity.
Time spent in exploring an opportunity is a worthwhile investment.
But, I don’t appreciate anyone wasting my time.
Here are three things to think about before treasure hunting:
I don’t know everybody.
I work for ESPN, a company with thousands of employees, offices and studios across the globe. We all don’t work in the same location, same building and same department.
We all don’t know each other.
More often than I care to say, people who reach out to me ask if I know a particular person who I am never in contact with. Now this might sound like an innocent inquiry when meeting someone at a social event, but that isn’t the case if you have decidedly asked to be a professional connection online.
I don’t send someone such an invitation unless I have read their profile carefully and identified an intersection based on our work experience. That way when I am seeking to get on their calendar or asking if they can connect me to another person – the petition is as specific as possible.
It seems as if most people just read titles and company names. That is the basic basis they use to try and professionally hook up. One cannot apply the same careless swipe right, swipe left online dating approach to finding a career match.
Still, there is one parallel between them…the often lack of sincerity.
It’s not me…it’s definitely you.
I can’t tell you how many times a week I get a message from someone pitching me a service that has nothing…absolutely nothing to do with the type of work I do.
They obviously did not take the time to read my profile. They didn’t look at my experience and question if I was the right fit (with their business). All they saw was ESPN. And all they were looking for was an opening…a crack, however small in order for them to get in; get to the right person.
That’s not how it works.
At least that’s not how it works with me. And it’s not about not pointing people in the right direction; introducing them to the right persons. It’s that they didn’t take the time to do their own homework and researching who is the right person.
These types of canvassers are dishonest. They know I’m not the one. They’re not interested in me (professionally). They only want the “happy ending” I potentially represent.
Transparency is crucial for any relationship to work. I am more receptive to someone who is straight and to the point about their intentions than the time consuming virtual wining and dining. Sometimes if you cut to the chase and just ask for what you really want…you just might get it.
Which brings us to the last bit of advice I can give you…
What’s in it for me?
Soliciting is a two way street. You have to make it worthwhile for the person you’re looking to connect with. If not, you’ll just come across as the stereotypical used car salesperson…someone trying to peddle a product which no one wants.
The best strategy again is when the person doing the approaching has taken the time to learn about the person they’re contacting.
For example, if you spend 5 minutes reading my Linkedin profile you’ll quickly learn that my work focuses on content development and production targeting the U.S. Hispanic audience in English and Spanish across multiple platforms and networks in the U.S. and Latin America.
Someone looking to do business with me would seek to provide services which support, compliment or strengthen the work that I do.
They wouldn’t cold call me about say, their company’s state-of-the-art biomedical devices which are improving the lives of the aging population. I’m joking of course. No one has ever made such a pitch to me. I’m not using a real example in order not to embarrass anyone. The point is not to reach out to a prospective client or partner without first doing your homework and providing them with a proposal which is relevant to their business.
And the worst…the absolutely worst thing you could do is not give a reason why you want to chat with someone!
Solicitor: When you have some time today, I’d like to talk to you. Let me know what number is best to reach you.
Me: Whah the whah?
So, in this scenario the solicitor is basically saying, “you do the work.
Go checkout my profile, see how our work intersects and then you’ll see why we should talk.”
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, I don’t think so.
Find the delete button and press.