I’ve made it a point to get better connected to the entrepreneurial community in the city I live in within the last year (Sioux Falls, SD). I’ve been going to a lot more events, have sponsored a few different things and have made some great connections by buying people lunch. As a natural consequence, my name has become more known in this community and I’ve had a number of people reach out to me.
How to Fail Miserably When Pitching Someone
Most have been well meaning and simply wanted to ask questions about business and I’ve done my best to accommodate them. There have been a couple of exceptions though. There have been a couple of people that have asked to meet with me under questionable pretenses, saying that they wanted to chat about entrepreneurship and building businesses. In reality, they either wanted to try to sell me on something directly or have me promote whatever they’re selling for them.
Here’s an example of one of these emails:
“First of all I want so say kudos for being involved in as many areas of the community as you are. Just reading up on all of the organizations you are a part of or help out has me exhausted ha! I am a Financial Advisor with [NAME OF COMPANY] and am extremely intrigued by some of the work you are doing. My main focus is more on long term financial planning and security, so maybe a tad different from what you typically analyze. I would love to grab coffee with you to sit down and see if I could potentially be a resource for some of the entrepreneurs you work with on a regular basis?”
My initial thought to after reading this email was “Wow. That sounds like a great deal for you.” If you’re trying to setup a meeting with someone you’ve never met, you need to give them a good reason to actually meet with you. If you’re asking for a meeting with someone you’ve never met before that can help you in business, chances are that their time is pretty valuable. You can’t expect anyone is going to want to give you any of their time just because you want to sell them on something or you think that they can help you with your business.
How to Pitch the Right Way
You need to find a way to provide them value up-front so that the person actually wants to meet with you. Try to find a way to provide value or insight into their business. Maybe you know something about business that would help the person you’re trying to meet with. Maybe you and the other person share a mutual interest that you could have a conversation about over lunch or coffee. The key is to show the other person that you have something to contribute to the conversation.
If you do want to pitch somebody you don’t know on something, you need to build a bit of a relationship before pitching them. Try to create a series of personal “touch points” with the person through attending events, social media and casual conversation (whether that be in-person or online). I would be much more open to hearing from someone that wanted to pitch me on something if I had a brief conversation with them at a 1 Million Cups event or if they’ve left a couple of insightful comments on my blog. That shows that you’ve put at least some effort into getting to know them before pitching them.
Here’s an example of an email I might to send to someone that I want to meet with.
Dear Andy –
My name is Matthew Paulson. I recently read your book “The Early to Rise Experience”. In the book, I see that you recommend turning off the television 2 hours before bed to sleep better. Did you know that X, Y and Z also have a significant impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep? I’ve personally had good luck with A, B and C and now can regularly get up at 5:00 AM without an alarm clock.
Anyway, I’ll be in your town in a couple of weeks. If you have an hour, I’d love to get together for lunch or coffee to connect and chat about business.
Let me know.