You’ve been there right? Sitting at a networking event where you’re getting the hard sell from someone and you’re not really interested in what they have to offer, but maybe you’re too polite to just say no and walk away?
It happens online too, when you get a strange friend request or follow, or someone sends you an email or direct message. You’re getting a salesy, unsolicited pitch that is just too awkward.
Last week I shared some of the worst direct message pitches I’ve ever received. (Click here to read “The Most Cringe-Worthy Salesy Direct Message Pitches I’ve Ever Received!”)
To avoid coming across as spammy and too salesy when you contact new prospects online, here are some great tips.
Tip #1: DO NOT lead with your own agenda
This one should be pretty basic, but is often forgotten. What are you leading with when you start a dialogue? Are you leading with your own agenda? Or are you leading with something that would be for them?
Connect with them, remind them where you met, give a compliment or share what you have seen them do.
Many of the next tips will help you focus on sharing how connecting with others online is less about you and more about them.
Tip #2: Be sure your “Friend Request” isn’t just to pitch
Friend request and properly connect before you offer, not 5 minutes later. And if they don’t know you maybe add a personal message sharing why you want to connect.
Read on to see what to do on the receiving end of a friend request.
Are you skeptical and cautious when accepting friend requests from people you don’t really know? I’m sure you have people want to friend request you often. Sometimes it’s because they genuinely just want to follow along with your updates. Other times it’s because they think you’ll be more receptive to a sales pitch in a private message.
Have you wondered…If they want to friend you and you don't personally know them, then what's the point of accepting their request?
I will say yes to their friend request if we have people in common, I recognize them or if they’re women, because that's my ideal target market.
I friend people when we have a lot of friends in common because I figure they would be a good connection. This is true since I trust my friends’ opinions and oftentimes we have other things in common.
It might be good for your business to friend people, for example, I work with high achieving women, so I will generally friend female leaders and female business owners faster than men. This is also because I do get unsolicited messages from the men coming in, such as “Hello beautiful”.
You can have 5000 friends so friend people and but do your due diligence. If you want to accept a friend request from someone, then you need to make the decision of whether that’s a good decision for you or not. For me it often is, because I do business on Facebook.
Have your own criteria for accepting friend request.
Tip #3: Give permission not to answer
I got this message the other day, “Hey, Diane, I know we don't know each other but I'm expanding my business in your area. And I was just curious, would you be open to taking a look at what I'm doing and make some extra weekly income? If not, no big deal.”
What I like about this is having permission to not answer her. So what did I do? I had a quick look to see what she does and I didn’t answer. Messages ended.
But sometimes, when you don’t answer, people will come back later and say, “Hey, you didn't reply to my message,” or “Hey, I'm sending this again, because you haven't replied.”
Coming from a business owner’s perspective, it’s not always good to just ignore private messages on places like your Facebook business page. If you ignore, or take too long to respond to a message on your page, it messes up your response rates. I.e.: that badge or message on a Facebook business page that says how long it typically takes for the page to respond to private message. By not responding it could drop my response rate, making me look like I don’t respond quickly to my messages. Not good!
To easily reply, sometimes an emoji happy face, a Thumbs up, or a “thanks” will be sufficient.
So, if you give someone an “out” not to respond, don’t follow-up with a “Why didn’t you respond?”
Tip #4: Connection. Connection. Connection.
The biggest indicator of a spammy sales pitch on the horizon is awkwardness, or just plain weird messages that have no clear intention or understanding of who you are. This means you have to look to see if they have a true connection with you or if they’re fabricating one.
Some people may use the question, “What do you do?” to get to know me better. But when this information is so readily available online, it comes across as lazy and disengaged. In my mind, that's them making me work.
Before you reach out to anyone, have something specific about them to talk about. Don’t just talk about you. I don't know how many times I've had someone email me telling me how awesome they are.
I'm glad you're awesome. I’m clapping for you. But I’m probably not buying from you.
Instead before you reach out to someone have a topic that is worthy of connecting about.
Years ago I got this email that started with, “Hey, Diane, I love what you're doing.” She went into some specifics, then said, “If I can take the words from your own website, ‘I tell it, like I see it.’ I see that you're doing such great work in the world. But I feel like you could be reaching more people. I'd love to do that for you.”
And then she went on to explain a little bit more about what that looked like.
What was my response? I emailed back and said, “I like that you're ballsy enough to say that to me, and to say it with some humor and acknowledging me. You’ve showed you’re actually getting to know me, and you've taken some interest and some care and attention to connect.”
I ended up hiring her and worked with her for many years.
Tip #5: Acknowledge something you admire about them
One of the easiest ways to connect is to acknowledge the person in a genuine way for something that you admire about them. It’s like that radio station everybody's listening to: W.I.I.FM (aka “What's In It For Me?). That's what everybody is listening to. If you can tune into what’s in it for the person you’re connecting with, then they may listen and may reply to you.
For example, maybe you see Oprah and you say, “Hey, Oprah, feature me in your magazine.” Or, to Jennifer Lopez you say, “Michelle, can you connect me to a few people?” You wouldn't do that!
Instead, you could walk up to either woman and say some of the following,
In this case – you’ve got my attention and I’ll read more of your email.
Tip #6: Engage and follow before you reach out
If you want to be a guest on my show, the Dynamic Women Podcast, if you want to be an expert trainer for the Dynamic Women community, or if you want me to promote what you do, don't just say, “Here it is. Can you do this for me?”
Imagine you’re at an event and you see someone you don’t know flash a smile at you, then they come by and look at your table, then they say something nice and ask for your card. Then later, at the end of the event, they come back to you and say, “Hey, I'd love to have a conversation with you.”
Are you likely to have a conversation with them?
Yes, because they've been smiling. They've been saying nice things to you. You’re going to give them the time to chat. Right? You're going to do that because you felt a connection with them. You want to reciprocate their kindness.
Would you like people to do these actions before they jump into your inbox and before they come into your messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram?
Tip #7: Small talk has its place
If it’s with genuine intent to learn a little more about someone, or to remind them where you met, or how you know them, then small talk is a great way to get started.
I often get emails like this, “Hey, Diane, I'm [name]. ‘So and so’ said I needed to get in contact with you.”
Ok, this is a good start, but I still need context so I’ll ask what they’re contacting me about.
This is an example reply I received…
“Well, you talk a lot about confidence and I do a lot of work around that. I just wanted to know what you're up to. And I wanted to get to know you.”
Okay, fair enough. So, we’ll have a conversation.
This works, because it’s small talk with the intent to get to know each other and establish if and how you should be connected. If they just said, “I want to talk to you about confidence because I work in that area too,” I wouldn’t be as receptive.
Where to get started
First of all, start getting on your prospects radar:
Later, when they reach out in a private message or email, I'll take notice. It’s like warming up a lead before getting down to business.
The second thing is to find out what’s important to them. Not what you think is important, but what is actually important to them. You’ll learn this by listening to some of their videos or podcasts and reading what they’ve written on their website, blog, and bio.
One thing that's important to me is helping women in shelters. I donate money, pajamas, underwear, and even my books to women in shelters. This is important to me.
If someone came to me and said, “Hey, Diane, I have a way that we can help more women in shelters, I would love to share that with you,” there's a good chance I'm going to listen. Because it's about something that I really think is important.
So, in a nutshell, when reaching out to a new prospect:
Now that you know these things, how are you going to show up differently? Are you going to change how you “pitch” to others?
Share your insights (or some of your stories) in the comments below.
Until next time, stay dynamic!
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