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!
There are few things that make me cringe more than getting unsolicited pitches over direct message on social media. And it’s usually with people I don’t know at all. It’s annoying and yucky!
So, today, I’m going to share some of the “best” (read: “most cringe-worthy”) direct messages that I’m sure I’m not the only one to have received. And I’m going to share what you can learn from them so you avoid doing them.
Interestingly, I’ve had a couple of clients and women in my online community in the past few weeks ask this question:
“How do you approach social media contacts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.) without appearing like a sleazy salesman… especially if they’re a new connection.”
We’ve all had it happen to us (and maybe we’ve inadvertently done it ourselves). You become friends or get a new follower on social media followed by a near-immediate direct message from them that you can just tell isn’t genuine. It’s too salesy or pitchy and you didn’t ask for their offer or even let them know what you’re needing.
Two questions come up:
Today, I’m going to share six of my all-time favourite ways I’ve been pitched over direct messages on social media. Tell me if you’ve gotten any of these:
Pitch #1: Hi, how are you?
We’ve all received those impersonal “conversation starters” over direct message. Often they are a spam bot, or someone who doesn’t know how to properly reach out to a new connection online. When I get these messages, I am not in a place at that moment, potentially, to have a conversation. I’m probably not going to engage in a full conversation with this person I don’t know and I’m not sure I even know why they’re trying to contact me. It’s just so open-ended. How do you even respond to that? “Great”, “Fine thanks”, or maybe “I’m good”?
Then they may follow up with “What do you do?”. Oh no! If you looked at my website, if you looked at any of my profile bio, you’d know what I do. Don’t make me work because you want to talk to me.
Don’t make connecting with you hard because you're the one that wants to connect with me. You need to say more. Woo and entice me! If you're going to reach out to someone, say more!
Pitch #2: Hey, have you thought about optimizing your website?
Let's get into those unsolicited offers. This is when someone messages, emails, or sends a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram message and they say, “Hey, Do you want to optimize your website?” or “Do you want to get more leads on Facebook?”
Well, who doesn't? Who doesn't want these good things? But it doesn't mean that I'm ready to enter in a sales conversation with you about it. Because I don't know you. It was unsolicited and, again, impersonal.
What do you lead with?
The first few words should aim to get a connection. Ask yourself, “What is the most genuine thing I can lead with when I’m messaging this person?” “How can I bring them value?”
Because when people lead with things like, “You need to optimize your website for more clients” or “You can increase your Google page rank”, it’s unsolicited and kind of presumptive that I need these things. My favourite (insert eye roll here) is when people have no clue who I am or what I do and say, “I can teach you how to be a speaker.” Or “You can be trained to be a coach through our program.” When I am already both.
Look at it this way. You’re hanging out at a concert and a stranger walks up to you and says, “Do you want to buy this watch?” What do you say? “I’m not even in a watch store, I’m here to watch the concert. Don’t bother me!”
It’s the same as when people try to sell you things on social media private messages when you didn’t ask for them. Your first few words to me should not be a solicitation. I'm not in your store. If I am in your store, then please, by all means ask me if I need help finding my size dress or ask what I’m looking for. If I'm on your website, then a little chat box or bot can pop up offering to help me and that’s ok, because I’m on your website looking for what you offer.
Do not pitch in that first message.
What about informing someone of an event or something coming up that they have or would be interested in? I’m ok with this. For example, I will message someone (who I know or have met) and invite them to come to an event within the first comment. But with those I don't expect a reply. If I ever message you an invite to an event that looks like it was copied and pasted en masse, I’m totally cool with you not replying to me. Why? I see this like an email newsletter with info in it where you can choose to reply or not.
Pitch #3: Diane, can I speak to your community?
I get these messages all the time: “Diane, I have a really great topic that your community wants.” Well, how do you know what my community wants? Have you asked me about it? Have you attended my events?
Again this person is leading with their own offer. They’re not looking for a connection or leading with anything that I should care about.
At Dynamic Women, there are lots of live in-person and online events. Anyone who’s attended an event, or even read the event descriptions, can see that I don’t have guest speakers. I don't know how many times I’ve received unsolicited offers to speak to my group. I don't have speakers. I never have speakers.
The only time I’ve ever got close to having speakers is when I’ve done an event with a panel. But I get people from my community for those spots, or ask my community who they would like to see.
When someone offers to speak at my events, it’s clear that they haven’t looked at one piece of my content on my website. They didn’t look at my meetup event listings. They didn’t take the time or care to see what my business really does with Dynamic Women. Because, if they had, they would know that I never have guest speakers for the live events. That's not what Dynamic Women is about.
For a while, I was responding to these messages by saying that I don’t have speakers but it was so time-consuming, so now I just delete them. If you're not going to take the time to notice the structure of my events, I'm not going to take the time to write back to you.
Pitch #4: I love what you’re doing
To build connection and get the attention of the person you’re reaching out to it’s great to give a genuine compliment or share what you like about what they do.
However, I often see people sending generic compliments like this, “I love what you're doing to help others.” or “I love how passionate you are about what you do.”
While these are nice things to say, they could apply to nearly everyone. If you're going to say that you love what I’m doing, give specifics.
For example, if you wanted to be on the Dynamic Women Podcast you might send me an email that says, “Hey, I love what you're doing. I listened to Episode 34 and I really resonated with your comments about [insert specifics here].” Or perhaps, “I love when you brought on [insert name of a guest speaker]. They were so knowledgeable, and it showed that you take great pride in choosing your podcast guests.”
In just the last few days I received six of these emails and not one mentioned anything about my podcast only about how great they are or the person they’re representing is awesome so I MUST have them on my show.
I did have a stand out video message that was similar to the positive example above and I booked her on my show. (You can listen to Kris’ interview here.)
Pitch #5: …If you’re interested…
I get lots of messages that start with, “I love what you're doing to help others. I’d love to share how you can triple your leads for your business, if you're interested.” In this case I’m not super annoyed as there is no hard sell here, but it’s not specific enough to show that they truly know me or it isn’t just a bot.
I don't know how they're going to share that with me. Are they going to send me a report? Are they going to give me a mini course? Are they going to share a free webinar with me? Or are they going to sell to me? I don't know.
So again I have to do the work to engage.
Pitch #6: Hey, my name is…
Here's another good one, “Hey, my name is [NAME here].” Ok who is that sentence about? Them or me? It's about them.
It continues, “I help coaches scale up and generate more leads and conversions through their website traffic.” Ok, that’s great, so at least they're telling me what they do. I’m not sure why I should care yet.
They continue on with, “I know you're busy. I just have a quick question. What has been your biggest challenge in getting clients through your website? Your input will help me better serve my clients.”
So, this person I didn’t know wanted me to help her serve her clients. I’m confused. Posting this in a FB or Linkedin group would be ok as anyone can comment or scroll by. Should I have stepped into my coach role to support her? Nope, I just didn’t reply. Is that rude? No it’s about creating boundaries with my time.
So, now that you see what DOESN’T work, how can you approach new contacts without turning into the people above?
How can you contact someone without being salesy or pitchy?
What is the best way to connect with people so they know that you care about them and that you're not trying to sell to them?
Check back next week to learn the secrets. Until then, stay dynamic!
What are three things that make you unique?
On the blog last week, we talked about how being “vanilla” isn’t necessarily the best path for growth. I suggested that you find your unique combination of qualities and skills that will make you stand out. Today I’m going to share a way you can discover what these three things are so you can be as unique as your fingerprint.
What three words best describe you?
I recently went on my Facebook profile and asked people to share things they think I’m good at or passionate about.
I could have also phrased this as, “What three words best describe me,” or “What three adjectives would you use to explain me to someone else?”
It’s always good to get that third-party perspective. A 360-degree survey is a great way to get honest feedback. I help my clients do these surveys to be their filter, because sometimes it’s not always easy to take the feedback. I help them see the truth and the essence underneath their answers.
If you were to ask the same question to your network, what do you think they’ll say? How will they describe you? You might be surprised! A recent client of mine was surprised when people said she was “calm”. She said she doesn’t feel calm, but others got that vibe from her.
What three words do you want to be known for?
If the feedback you get shocks you, maybe your audience is describing your essence and not your brand. When it comes to business, your brand and essence need to be in alignment.
I did a 360-degree survey for myself and the top answers I got were things like:
I thought this was great feedback, but what could I do with this information? I looked for ways to use this in my business to help me stand apart.
I encourage you to ask yourself three questions:
What makes you stand out? How can you be unique? How can you actually step up and stop being vanilla and start being extraordinary? How can you be someone that people remember?
What makes you stand out? How can you be unique? How can you actually step up and stop being vanilla and start being extraordinary? How can you be someone that people remember?
When it comes to your business, you want people to remember you so when they need your product or service, you're going to come top of mind for them.
Also, how would it be if when you enter a room, you’re the one people want to approach. How would it be if you were the one seen as friendly and standing out in a way that people are like:
Once you step into and embrace who you are and you show up that way, that’s when you will stand out and see your business and life grow.
Don't ever compare yourself to others and feel that you need to change to be like them. That would be like being vanilla, because you're going to take away all the “flavours” that make you unique.
There are millions of flavour combinations in this world and you need to discover what your unique combination is. Spicy or salty? Sweet or savory? Bold or subtle?
Tell me in the comments what your three words are. If you don’t already know, ask your friends or on social media. Ask them what three words best describe you.
If getting feedback like this makes you nervous, let me know. I’d be happy to help create a 360-degree survey for you that’s anonymous so that you can get the understanding and the growth that you're looking for. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make that happen for you.
In the meantime, keep being you and loving yourself fully. Show up as you and not as your title. Be the unique version of you. Be the most flavourful version of you. Be extraordinary. Don't be ordinary. Don't be vanilla.
Show up as who you truly are, so that you can have the business and life success that you're looking for.
Until next time, stay dynamic!
Stop Being Vanilla!
Let me step back a bit before the vanilla lovers start to hate. Vanilla is good stuff, but in business you need to stand out and chances are “vanilla” isn’t going to stand out in a sea of hundreds of flavours.
Let’s continue the ice-cream metaphor for a moment…
Think of your favourite ice cream shop. They’re not necessarily famous for their vanilla ice cream. Everywhere has vanilla, but it’s the shops that have unique flavours that stand out. Maybe it’s jalapeno, pistachio, or an earl grey ice cream. Flavours that are a little bit different.
Today I’m going to share why you need to stop being vanilla in your business, and why it’s important to add your unique flavours. You could be a plain Jane but that won’t help you boost your business and your life.
It is important to be extraordinary. You might be thinking, “Oh my goodness that’s hard!” Let me rephrase: you don’t have to be extraordinary in every single thing you do. I'm not saying that you have to come from a place of perfection every minute of the day.
Instead, think how can you stand out by being you. Where are you unique? What makes you different?
The only way that you can be different is by actually knowing what makes you different. Just like our fingerprints are all different, so are you.
Focus on what makes you stand out, not what makes you better than others. This helps you come from a more authentic and genuine place. Try saying to yourself, “I am unique and my uniqueness is what makes me different. It's the piece that people are willing to pay for”.
When you are in alignment with being extraordinary (AKA being yourself), you’ll find life much easier because it’s far less work to be yourself than to follow along blindly on the same train tracks as everyone else.
The train tracks of life
I often relate living life to riding on a set of train tracks. You can ride the train in one of two ways.
The way society often thinks of being on a specific set of train tracks is based on your career. Your track is named for your type of business, your job title, or the title society would give you like stay-at-home-mom, wife or other role or title you hold.
There are hundreds of thousands of other people on that same track and that can confine you to staying stuck on where that track goes and how you should be on it. The trouble with this and focusing on what you do rather than who you are is that “vanilla” people follow others on the track and are not noticed by the onlookers.
The issue is that when you ride your train, it’s not a straight track:
Through it all ONLY YOU REMAIN THE CONSTANT; your title does not.
This is the other way you can ride the tracks of life.
Being on that track is important and being on that track as who you are is what will make you stand out. How you respond to the tunnels, mountain edges, and ups/downs will distinguish who you are.
Can you relate to that? Can you see a time in your life when you were on the track that was based on titles and you were just chugging along with the crowd? We’ve all been there. Me too!
Now if you’re trying to constantly jump tracks, trying to hop on new trains, that’s hard. You have to rebuild that momentum every time. Instead, what if you stayed on your own tracks, but traveled along them in your own way? Hmmmmm…
Which of the two options do you choose?
YOU need to be the constant.
Who you are is more important than what you do. What makes you unique is key. If you’re an introvert, don’t panic because I’m not telling you to become an extrovert. That’s not who you are. I am encouraging you to push outside your comfort zone to find what makes you different.
What makes someone impactful?
Think of famous people who have made an impact in the world. For me, Mother Teresa comes to mind first. Think of this person and think of a couple of words you’d use to describe this person.
Even though you may have never met these people, you can describe their essence. Here are some examples for me:
I encourage you to think about what makes you uniquely you. It could be something in your appearance, your personality, or something you do. This combination will be unique to you.
Think again about what makes you unique. What makes you stand out.
I recognize this kind of deep introspection can be difficult for some of us so next week I’m going to share how you can get some help to find your unique persona.
Until then, stay dynamic!
Last week I shared how coaches can become better coaches by hiring their own coach! But that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s not the right time for coaches to hire a coach.
The main reason being maybe you have too many “cooks in the kitchen” and are working with enough other counselors or business advisors already. If you do, that’s awesome! I have many clients who have advisors or counselors, as well as me. As long as they are helping you get ahead in all the areas of your business and your life. Otherwise get the support of a coach.
I’ve had clients come to me and after hearing their story and goals, I sometimes suggest seeing a career consultant. For example, I had a woman come to me and say, “I know you work with business owners, and I want to move my business forward. I want to bring someone in to have a partnership on this business. And perhaps start a direct sales company.” In this case I suggested that what she actually needed right now was a business advisor.
To best help this client, I referred an advisor that I personally knew, liked, and trusted so she was able to get the legal strategy and the agreements that she needed.
In another example: I sadly knew five women who lost their husbands to cancer this past year. It’s heartbreaking and I simply can’t imagine what that’s like.
I was able to refer some of these women to a client of mine who was a grief counselor. In this case these women didn’t need my services as a life coach because they really needed processing time and space to mourn the loss of their spouse..
As a coach myself, I help others find their own answers, but I know that sometimes you just need to be told what to do, right? Sometimes you just need a coach, and other times you need to be taught or told what to do.
For example, right now I’ve got different people teaching me:
Maybe, coaches need coaches
Click here to And the final argument for whether coaches need coaches is for the “Maybe” crowd.
First, ask yourself these questions:
I know many coaches who are committed to their craft. They achieved the right ICF (International Coaching Federation) approved certification and still they’re not ready to learn more. They think they are where they need to be. That is their choice, but it’s the fixed mindset and it can catch up to them. Plus for all of the reasons I mentioned for “yes” gets lost when they’re unwilling to keep growing.
What do you think Diane?
I believe that I think no matter what industry you're in, there's always room for improvement. There's always a way to adapt. I like to say, “When you stop learning, you stop earning”.
What do I ultimately think? Well, there are way more reasons and benefits to the YES crowd. Ultimately, it comes down to why someone needs a coach. I’ve had fantastic personal and business success working with my coaches and I believe everyone in the world could benefit from having coaches, consultants, mentors, and teachers in their lives.
I also don’t believe that once you’ve had one coach, you’re done. Try different coaches with different levels and types of expertise and methods for coaching. Some coach heavily on mindset, others on dealing with loss, others on life-balance, process coaching, and so many more niches.
Many coaches can coach you through any situation, but they often have a niche specialty, and you need to jive with the coach and coaching style to see the best results.
Do YOU need a coach now?
If you’re curious whether you need a coach or advisor, I offer a no-obligation conversation to help you determine this.
If I’m your best fit for a coaching relationship, then we can work together. If not, I’m happy to refer you to others who may be a better fit. Book a 15-minute chat at dianerolston.youcanbook.me
Until next time, stay dynamic!
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