I recently experienced a suspicious outreach. That happens when someone you don’t know very well or haven’t spoken to in a long time reaches out, suddenly eager to talk. Typically this means they are newly unemployed, have something they want to sell you, or a judge has asked them to let you know there is a sex offender in your neighborhood.
This person who contacted me and I have never met in person. He initially reached out to me a few years ago, but after his original introduction, there was never any maintenance to the relationship. In fact, he acknowledged his deadbeatness in his outreach. But suddenly he was eager to talk. Like a close-lipped criminal after being granted legal immunity. I could tell from the note that whatever he was selling at his Tupperware Party would be far more valuable to him than to me.
I don’t mind hearing about what you have going on or what you are trying to sell. But I am much more interested in talking about it if we have spent time talking about other things first.
A Rule of Thumb
Don’t meet and sell on the same day. Don’t do it on the second interaction either. Instead, create a base for your relationship before you develop your base for sales. As a good rule of thumb, meet, email, or call 3 times before you start asking for a transaction. Better yet, provide value to the other person first. Find an article or book they should read. Connect them with another person they should meet. Let them know if they have spinach in their teeth. You know, be helpful.
People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. Give others a chance to approach you about your offering first. If you develop a real relationship, and they are a good candidate for your offering, there is a good chance they will bring it up first if you just give them a chance.
Develop relationships first. Add value first. Once a good relationship is established the sale, donation or vote may come without an ask.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.