The Social Media Cold Call

Cold Call

The title in and of itself is ironic. Cold calling, hard core outbound marketing should be all but obsolete thanks to the wonders of social media…but I’m here to report that cold calling lives on, for better or worse.

Social media was supposed to spawn a new generation of “inbound marketing”. Of on demand and user-generated content. People were supposed to find information on anything they needed, at any time, on a variety of platforms. We were supposed to be brought closer together as parts of communities. All these things are happening to some degree, but there are others that look at Social Media as just another method to prospect people they’ve never met.

At least once / week I get the obligatory LinkedIn request from someone I’ve never met…”hey we both used to work at so-and-so inc. Let’s link”. What? Do I know you? For what possible reason would I vouch for you over cyberspace? Did you make any attempt to get to know me at all or did you just see that I have a bunch of contacts in an industry or company that served your purpose?

My other favorite is when someone from my alma mater will email me their resume saying they’re looking for a job. “Saw you worked for so-and-so in the alumni directory. I’m interested in this job…”  What has the world come to that people think because we happened to graduate from the same institution, we suddenly have a bond and that I’m going to go out of my way to help them find a job?

I’ve been married for a long time, someone tell me this is not what dating has come to…forget getting to know you, let’s get straight to it and elope.

Maybe I’m showing my age but if I don’t know who you are, maybe you need to start working your personal brand before coming to me for a favor. Asking me to be your contact is not a great place to start. There’s a ton of information on the net so next time, try getting to know a person first. Figure out interests, commonalities, etc. All these things SHOULD be common sense.  “Enjoyed your blog on this…” or “I see we both have a passion for this…”

Most importantly, don’t forget about reciprocity. If you want something, offer something first. A most basic marketing tactic and one I might add that I see alive and well in social media. Companies across the globe have figured out that by putting helpful information out there people will eventually seek them out when the time is right. The same should go with our personal pursuits. And it doesn’t have to be a huge concession. Simple flattery is always a good place to start.

Now let’s all stop with the digital cold calling… if you have a personal brand that resonates with me, I’ll take the time to get to know you, and then maybe I’ll take the time to help you. But let’s not skip to the third date before I even give you my phone number.



  1. #1 by Heather Torres on June 18, 2009 - 7:31 am

    My sentiments exactly! This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    Social media makes it almost too easy to connect with people. Some feel that it’s a popularity contest and the person with the most “friends” wins. This notion seems to be embodied by people that don’t have a “real” social life. In my opinion, the more meaningless contacts you have, the harder it is to follow and nurture the relationships that you truly value. It seems to me that social media can also be used as a crutch. Rather than picking up the phone to connect with close friends, we rely on sending emails and posting to messages boards, ultimately avoiding a personal, more intimate form of communication. Is this what the world has come to? Networking is more than simply asking someone to be a social media contact. It’s about building meaningful relationships.

  2. #2 by Kris Kaneta on June 18, 2009 - 8:26 am

    You raise an interesting point…has social media made personal touch obsolete? I remember last fall meeting job candidates and one of them sent me a sms “thank you” note. Needless to say I did not recommend this person. Sadly, I have become equally bad…the “happy birthday” wall post of facebook, etc all at the cost of having a real dialog.

    As to you’re other point…I too will never understand the people who follow thousands on twitter. What good does that do you? And how are you nurturing relationships. Now, I get it if your a or big brand…people want to follow you, so you are obliged to follow them. But for us normal people, you can’t possibly tell me that feeds from 3000 people is better than feeds from a couple hundred whom you know are valuable sources of information.

    Social media is not a popularity contest and sometimes I get the sense that the most “popular kids” in social media are just the ones making up for lost time in the real world.

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