Next thing I know, that guy sends me a lengthy LinkedIn message touting his services, saying “if you or anyone you know” needed these services “at a reasonable price,” I should let him know. He also said I should visit his website, and “let me know your thoughts.” (On what exactly??)
Sigh. Not only was that message all self-promotion, it had a copy-and-paste look and feel to it; that of a “master networker” who rattles off his or her elevator pitch at networking functions as if playing back a pre-recorded infomercial.
That was the end of our conversation. I never responded, and at least he never pestered me again. (Which is another indication of how expendable I was to him as a business lead.)
Although effective networking doesn’t require any serious money, what it does require is some thought. And that requires time—the other big resource besides money. You must be willing to make an investment there, especially with new networking contacts.
The “sandwich” concept
Rather than forcing your pitch down someone’s throat, try making the purpose of your message “palatable” to a person—like a “sandwich” you bring. A well-made “sandwich” is more likely to be well-received.
Offer something—ask for something—offer something
Think of a “sandwich” as consisting of two slices of bread and the meat (and other fixings) in between. The slices of bread are about offering something, such as: a link to an informative piece relevant to the person; a link to a conference or webinar on a topic that is up the person’s alley; or a lead with the name of an individual or a company the person might want to check out.
The meat and fixings in between is where you ask for something, which might be: an informational meeting; a referral; or feedback on something like the new layout of your website. Even the guy I mentioned above could reasonably have asked me for that, especially if he had told me why he would value my input specifically.
Knowing how to “fix” a good “sandwich” can make or break your message
The two slices of bread can be critical in determining how willingly you receive the meat and fixings in the “sandwich.” Although that guy did offer at least one “slice of bread” later (random business tips), what came at me first was a greasy, overcooked “beef patty” (blatant self-promotion). No wonder I didn’t feel like touching it.