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Don’t Be Lazy – How To Make A Connection Before Pitching Someone

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… 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

Give Before Asking

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!


Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Fantastic Leah! Mainly because you have a very concrete example of how it works (so many “gurus” talk about connection – reposting, commenting – but don’t go deeper than that. I like the way you describe this gal, and how she was supportive for a MONTH and CONSISTENT in her support. It’s inspiring!)

    I do get the question though. Because contacting people directly is sort of old school cold calling. In my day-job I actually do it alot – but only with the goal to connect & book a meeting – not to sell them right then and there. It’s tricky though, because in the old school corporate world they people I’m trying to reach are rarely hanging out in forums or reading blogs online – you kind of have to Grab them to get a hold of them. Without turning them off instantly (hard!)

    I think that’s why I’m so in love with the online marketing world, where you can create real relationships and connections way before selling. So when the sale happens it’s this beautiful thing of service and both parties are excited to get to work.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Exactly! I was worried it would sound like everyone else when I wrote it because it’s definitely not new advice. But the thing is, most people still don’t do it. And if they do, only after about 1-2 tweets. The month was what made a huge difference for me. I was just blown away by my recent experience and had to share! So well said about it being a “beautiful thing of service” and both parties being excited- that’s exactly what happened to me and it really does work like that most of the time.

  • I couldn’t say it better Leah. You make some fabulous points here. It is indeed hard to connect with those who have bigger audiences. However, that just means you have to work twice as hard to get their attention.

    For instance, there is one lady who knows who I am because I am a regular on her Twitter chat. However, she gets a ton of emails and I think mine just got lost in pile. (Especially, since she has a VA filtering her e-mails)

    After reading this, it hit me, I should have sent her a quick tweet letting her know I’d email her about guest posting. So she can go check it out herself or ask her VA about it. I think I will try to contact her again and do just that.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes! That sounds like a great plan. Or, just as a follow-up telling her you sent the email. I’ve heard some “gurus” say they don’t like being told multiple times about an email- because if they want to respond to it, they will. But I think one tweet is totally acceptable or continuing to simply connect about other things with them (and then sending a followup email) is great. You can’t please everyone in your marketing, but if you are doing it from a genuine authentic place, you can’t go wrong.

  • Hi Leah,

    This is a fantastic post. I was asking myself the same question when I saw a site with a list of contacts who offer a certain service and I thought – as a beginner front-end dev- it would be so cool to be able to contact them and offer them my services. But I completely agree that doing that is aaaalmost disgusting. I’ve been kind of doing this myself with people I admire, not so much to offer services but to be able to ask technical things. I have to be respectful and acknowledge that people are busy and they’re not sitting around waiting for my newbie questions.. so I do my homework and hound their archives to see if they’ve posted something about it and only then I allow myself a very gentle email to connect.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      That’s awesome Luisa- you are so on the right track. And not a lot of people are like you (looking in archives and doing your homework first). Really impressive attitude and I think it will get you far. Besides just your “newbie” questions, it gives you the opportunity to create real connection- and that’s what it’s all about when your break this life of ours down to what matters.

  • I’m loving this post, Leah!
    Good stuff.

  • Leah this is fantastic! I always love it when people connect with me prior to pitching me. It’s hard to take time to make connections but those connections always provide the best outcome for projects and new client relationships.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I totally agree! Best outcomes are the goal so we need to set ourselves up best to get there! Thank you Angel!

  • Great reminder Leah. I love building relationships this way- it just feels so natural and easy, so that by the time I come to chat about how I can help the other person, it doesn’t feel like an icky sell- because they need something I can help them with and I’ve taken the time to get to know them and their business.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, another great benefit I didn’t mention- actually getting to know them better… which obviously results in being able to help them better and with confidence. Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

  • Alejandra

    I was just talking about this last night with my husband, how I’m making new connections online and in person lately in ways that feel good to me. Coming from a corporate job, the expected and somewhat forced networking always felt so icky to me. I could never picture myself making it to a higher position where I would have to sell, but this way of connecting, organically, because you have a genuine interest in people is wonderful to me. I have two meetings with prospective clients in the next few days that came about simply because I complimented their webpage or they saw me interacting with another client. Thanks, Leah, for writing this out so clearly!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      That’s great Alejandra! I totally agree with the thought that in the corporate world it feels a bit more icky. I hope your client meetings went well and great job for reaching out and complimenting them! That’s where it all starts!

  • Thanks Leah for writing this. I’ve been struggling with this as well lately and have trouble finding a way to make connections. I appreciated the concrete example you gave and the steps to get there. Now I just need to go start doing it! 🙂

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      So glad it was helpful Sara! Yes- just time to get on it now! 🙂

  • I loved this Leah. It makes perfect sense. If I see a cold call in my inbox and I don’t know who they are, it does straight to the bin without me reading it. Lisa xo

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, I know the feeling. And I always think in my head- if only they tried to connect with me first!

  • Thank YOU! x

  • Yes! Is there any other way??? Love your no-bullshit approach Leah.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      No, there isn’t 🙂 Thanks for stoppin by Heather!

  • Great post Leah, makes total sense 🙂

  • Alison

    In agreement and glad to hear this, because it was my gut feeling as I am starting to do some of this work myself. From a recent personal experience, I also have to say that from the point of view of pitching yourself, it also gives you time to get to know the person/business and decide if you really want to associate your name. I just did some work for a guy that I pitched myself too and now after working with him, I don’t like him and I am trying to figure out if I can back out and away gracefully. If I’d had more contact/asked more questions about him and his business rather than just focusing on pitching me and my services, I wouldn’t be in this spot!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, it’s funny how that works out, right? Connecting instead of pitching is exactly how you can start working with only ideal clients- because you get to pick them, not the other way around! On a side note, if you already have that gut feeling that you don’t like him- you can definitely back out gracefully, whether you pitched him in the beginning or not!

  • sugar diabetis

    Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..

    Any ideas? Cheers!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I understand it can be overwhelming but congrats on making the first steps! I’m set to release a course for people just starting out called The LEAP Guide. Check it out! For websites, I wrote an overview on the mistakes freelancers make with their first website and what I recommend to do here: 4 Freelance Website Mistakes

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