With websites, facebook pages & twitter accounts, most people are quite easy to contact these days. With little investigation, it’s quite simple to find an email address or even just a contact form to get in touch.
The problem with this? It makes asking for things and pitching to people too easy. Too easy to be lazy.
And laziness? It’s not going to get you very far in business.
I received an email from a lovely reader asking for advice about getting more clients:
“I found a blogger community that has potential to be my future clients. They have a very active group on Facebook. Too bad I can’t advertise on it because they have a rule about that. But, they do have a list of blogs of the members.
So, I’m thinking to approach each individual blogger (possibly via email) and let them know what I offer. The question is, is that alright to actually do that? To advertise myself that way? I would love to hear your opinion about it. I’m kind of struggling to find a way to get noticed.”
Why It’s Not Okay to Email Strangers to Pitch Your Services
To get straight to the point- it’s spam.
If you don’t have a previous relationship, in one form or another- it’s spam.
People don’t like receiving straight-up advertising in their inbox that they didn’t ask to receive. That’s why newsletter optins exist.
No matter how great your services are, or how much a person may really need them, starting the relationship off with a sales pitch, will only give them an uncomfortable feeling of simply being sold to. Like in a sleazy used car salesman kinda way.
You don’t want them to think of you like that. Especially right off the bat. That used car salesman feeling you’ll give them…..it will only turn them off. And will be just a waste of your time in trying.
But don’t worry, the same stuff that makes it incredibly easy to contact people in a sleazy way, also provides the solution.
How to Make a Connection Before Pitching to Someone
About a month and a half ago, someone followed me on twitter and retweeted one of my blog posts. Cool right? We all love when that happens. Then she shared something of mine on Facebook. Then a week later she commented on a blog post. Then she tweeted again. And commented again. I started interacting with her and checking out her stuff. This lady is rad. She’s super friendly, supportive of my work, and makes me feel like what I’m doing is valuable to others. There is no better compliment than that.
Then she tweeted, and shared and commented again.
For a MONTH.
When someone does that for a month- you notice it. I noticed her, to the point where I was super happy I made a new online connection. Not just those one-time retweet online connections. A real connection.
Last week, I received an email from her. She told me how much she liked my latest blog post and that she’d love to contribute with a guest post- and continued with pitching a few topic ideas.
It’s a no brainer for me. I know her. I trust her. I’ve seen her work and love what she does. And I’ve never even met her.
All because of the last month of her tweeting and sharing and interacting with me online.
This is how to pitch someone. Make a connection first.
- Tweet their stuff
- Share on Facebook
- Comment on their blog
- Send an email with only a compliment or a thank you (no sales)
Then once that connection is solid, and they know your name…..offer your services, or ask for a favor, or pitch a guest post (or whatever else you’d like from them).
It works. I’ve just experienced it first hand.
Now, of course it may not work with everyone. In particular the big gurus who receive hundreds of pitches and just don’t have time to notice the thousands of people trying to connect with them. But just sending a pitch won’t work either. You’ve got to start somewhere.
Once You’ve Made the Connection
Remember to make it about them, not you. In the case of the reader question that inspired this post: Tell them what you can do for them rather than simply telling them what you do. So if you are offering your blog design services, give them specifics.
Point out the areas that need improvement on their current site and how a redesign will help them (customers staying longer on the site, more sales, less confusion, more professional, etc).
Don’t just say, “I am a web designer and thought I’d reach out to you in case you wanted to redesign your blog”. There are a million web designers that do the same. Speak to their problems and position yourself as the person that can fix those problems. It may be something that’s lingered in the back their mind without realizing it. Now that they have someone that can provide the solution (that also has become a recognizable online connection of theirs from the work you’ve done above), they’ll jump on the opportunity.
On Another Note
This is also how to make connections online in general. Freelancing can get lonely. Having people to chat with, complain to, support, share & comment on blog posts, promote your stuff, and much more, will change everything. It’s as simple as starting to reach out via social media.
Create a list on Twitter of the people you’d like to connect with, and start interacting with them. You never know where it will lead.
Your turn in the comments!
Have you successfully connected with someone online before pitching them? Let us know how it went. And if not, do you plan on trying?
P.S. Thanks to the reader who emailed me with this question (I love getting questions from readers!) and my new online friend who recently pitched me, for the inspiration for this post- you know who you are!
P.P.S. There is still time to fill out my survey and enter to win a copy of “Everything I Know” by Paul Jarvis plus help little ol’ me get to know you better. Click here to fill it out!