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It's happened to you. A notification pops up that you have a direct message. Someone wants to connect. You open your DM to see a comment from a stranger about your post on social media or a compliment on your recent win to engage you in a seemingly innocent conversation. Those pleasantries are short-lived when suddenly their offer details start coming at you faster than ninja stars.
What do you do? I block and delete those messages without batting an eye. Spammy cold pitches are one of my biggest pet peeves and they aren't welcome in my space.
Online platforms have opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect with people who wouldn't have been in their orbits before. That's a good thing, but that doesn't mean you should throw manners and etiquette out the window. You wouldn't walk right up to someone in person and immediately start pitching them your products, so don't do it online.
Related: The Fine Art of Client Pitching
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The copy-and-paste version of your sales spiel that you're blindly sending to the masses completely lacks personality and sincerity. Worse yet, it shows that you are only interested in selfish gains. If you haven't done your homework to learn about your prospect and understand their needs, they won't want to invest their time listening to what you have to say.
My time is valuable! A cold pitch shows me you don't value my time. I'm loyal to people who take the time to build a great relationship with me and develop the know, like and trust factors. Those are the ones who will be collaborators with me for life. Your approach is key. You lose credibility when you send a cold pitch without building any rapport first.
It takes time to cultivate a long-lasting business relationship, but the return on investment is much greater than the "spray and pray" method of broadcasting your wares. Your time is better spent building lasting relationships with someone who will need you in the future and will happily refer you many times over.
Related: 5 Psychology-Backed Tips for Earning, and Keeping, a Prospect's Trust
For the best results, approach connecting through DM the same way you would network in person. At this stage, it's not about making money from that first sale. Keep brand alignment top of mind, and determine if the person you want to connect with is the right fit for your business. Find the people who vibe with what you're about, and leave your agenda at the door. This will ensure you're approaching the relationship with authenticity, not "commission breath."
Look for opportunities to develop a genuine connection with them. When you take a sincere interest in others as a human being, that's when the magic happens. It's important to know about their business, but also take the time to look at what interests your prospect has outside of work. Do you have hobbies, groups or friends in common? Details like this can be found on their online platforms and make it easier for you to connect with them on a personal level.
After you've done your research, send a message that provides the other person with a benefit. Lead with value! Assert your knowledge in a friendly way to begin building the foundation of your relationship. Recognize also that not everyone will be interested in connecting, regardless of your sincerity.
A great relationship between me and a (fitness professional?) in my circle began in my DM. This person saw a flaw in one of the yoga poses that I shared on social media. He wanted to help, so he sent me a message. His request was too forward and personal, it caught me off-guard. He's a giving person and genuinely wanted to help me, but without knowing him just yet, my spidey senses kicked in. Luckily, he pivoted from that first comment and took the time to build my trust in him.
Over the next few months, he was active on my social media, cheering me on through my yoga journey and contributing to my page engagement. He provided value by sharing pointers with me that I could use to improve my poses. Pretty soon, I was reaching out to him with questions. He invested time in developing our relationship and showed me that he was an authority in his area of expertise.
Related: The 6 Worst Opening Moves for Starting a Business Relationship
Always pursue quality over quantity. You don't need to spam everyone with a thoughtless message that will likely be ignored or get you blocked. Spend time making real connections with people you align with to form lasting relationships and create effortless business for the long haul.
People work with others they know, like and trust — regardless of where they meet. Technology and online platforms provide valuable advantages to grow our network and work faster, but authentic relationships will always be key to lasting success.