Last week, I was in Chicago speaking to a group. The hotel had an afternoon social time that I stopped at one afternoon to grab a snack. While I was sitting there, a young guy came in and started talking to me. He said he was from the area and had an appointment with someone staying at the hotel.
He was unusually chatty and a little cheesy in our conversation. But he was a young guy and I figured he was awkwardly trying to “network”. He said he had his own business and wanted to know what I did. I explained I was there to speak to the group. He said he might have a need for sales/business speaker in his new business. I gave him a card, said goodbye, and went to my room to crash.
A few days later, I get a call from the guy. He wants to know if I’m keeping my options open for “business opportunities”. And he goes into a pitch about his “system”.
It then dawns on me that the dude cruises business hotel lobbies to pick up leads. He has now taken the title of “most pathetic schemer” from the guy who tried to do the same thing to me in an aisle at Staples a few years ago.
I broke into his pitch and tried to politely tell him I wasn’t interested. He responded testily – “Does that mean you don’t want to keep your options open?”
I told him my options are pretty much closed. And I hung up.
But I wish I had stayed on the phone a bit longer and told him some simple truths:
- The reason that my “options” are closed is that I’ve already been through that stage of life without getting sucked in. I’m now (much?) older and wiser. When I was in college and immediately afterwards, I wasted several hours going to “job interviews” that turned out to be MLM schemes like Primerica or worse.
(Advice to the marketing kids — never respond to a job listing that refers to “sports marketing” or sports-minded marketing”)
- If you’re hanging out in office supply stores or hotel lobbies trying to bottomfeed, you really need to reexamine your sales strategy. (and reexamine your life)
- If you have to trick people into a meeting, you’re probably selling crap.
I’ve said it before. Sure, stuff like this works in the short term. But for long term success (in sales, marketing, or whatever), you HAVE to have honest conversations and relationships with your targets.