Let’s grab a cup of Coffee and Chat

I have been doing my best to attend a meetup of some type a few times a week. For one, it gets my blood flowing. I really enjoy meeting new people. And for two, you know the saying, if you want to understand your audience better, visit your competition. And you know what? I am so glad I go to these meetings.

A simple hello is a good start…

One particular meet up is held in a round table style. It is a one and 1/2 hour duration which starts by everyone introducing themselves. Protocol suggests no more than 3 mins to tell everyone who you are and what you do. About half of the 25 or so people who attend are newbies every week. I like that as it keeps the energy fresh.

Did I make an impression on you…

Just before each attendee of the meetup speaks, they circulate their business cards to all at the table. I like this feature as you can match the card to each speaker. It pretty much removes the guesswork of who is who and also allows you to take notes. The attendees are mostly middle aged sales people and small business owners, probably ranging in age from mid 30’s to late 50’s. This alone would suggest a level of “business maturity”.

What do people really want to know about you…

Three minutes… that’s the allotted time to speak. Sure ain’t a whole lot of time to convey any kind of message…let alone self promotion. Let me tell you want I want to hear.

Example:      Hello, my name is Lewis Poretz. I have been in the mortgage banking industry for 18+ years. I was an early adopter of social media. I started blogging 5+ years ago and for the past 2 years have been living in the social streams. I am a Social Media Strategist (I did not say expert on purpose, the world has too damn many experts). I offer Social Media Training, Assessments, Strategy and Implementation. I also am available to speak at seminars and workshops. I am originally from Alexandria Virginia and attended TC Williams High School, made famous by the hit movie Remember the Titans. I am married and have three boys. My hobbies include photography ( I have really good equipment which allows me to every now and then get lucky and nail a great photo ). I play guitar in a classic rock/blues/country/soul band. I love to boat and fish. I live here, sleep here, eat here and work here in Annapolis Maryland.

It’s not all about the pitch…

It may make no sense to some, but I attempt to spend most of my allotted three minutes telling people… well, about me, not about how I am hoping to make money by working with each and everyone of you. What I love about Twitter is the fact you gotta say your peace in 140 words or less. I like the fact that everyone who attends this meet up is only allowed 3 minutes. What baffles me is how people use all three minutes to promote their product, their company and their accomplishments. Three minutes people… I choose to promote Lewis Poretz, the person. Who I am, Where I am from, What I like and dislike, My hobbies, My family, My favorite places to eat, shop, vacation, relax, boat etc… After all, isn’t that being social?

How bout we get together for a cup of coffee…

I learn a lot about self promotion from this particular meetup. I learn a lot about what really matters and what doesn’t matter when giving those three minute speeches. I now understand what triggers my brain to shut down while people are delivering their three minute pitch. I now understand that what people really want is to get to know others sitting around the table on a personal level first and foremost, way before any product or service pitch is offered up. But it never fails… I am talking about he ones in the room that so transparently (not) told the group all about their product and services and not a thing about themselves. Just like clockwork, the morning after each meet up I get an email, often a duplicate from the same person I met at the previous meetup. The line is almost identical from each person. “How bout we get together for coffee and find out how we can help each other out?”

Honestly now, I can see through the BS, so just stop…

Let’s get to gather and chat over coffee… not a bad premise to start a relationship. But it turns out that is not what it is ever about. You see, I have been to several of these impromptu let’s chat over coffee meetings to see how we can help each other out… and it ain’t ever about helping each other out. I had an insurance agent I met for one of these coffee sessions begin pitching me for names of friends and family even before we sat down at the table. I didn’t even know what company he worked for, nor did I even care. How we can help each other out?  C’mon now…

Last week I had a self proclaimed, local Annapolis Social Media expert call me and pitch me on a new Facebook page building software he told me was going to change everything. It was an amusing call at first. Then I started asking him Facebook and Social Media related questions. He couldn’t answer them. This guy was pitching a product he did not even understand! I politely told him I was very active in the social streams and really had no interest in his product. I wished him the best of luck with his new venture but I had to go. He was relentless. I sternly told him again thanks but no thanks. He continued to be relentless. Worst of all, he was promoting his product quoting inaccurate statistics and facts. Again I wished him the best of luck but I had to go and hung up the phone… He called me right back and started pitching again.

I was contacted by another person from this meet up who wanted me to hold a two hour seminar on the big three – Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. I booked the engagement, emailed a proposal for my time and noted my fee was due and payable at time of the event. After the event I was told attendance was not good so they couldn’t afford to pay me… anything. They were charging admission at the door. It wasn’t too hard to do the math to see they collected over and above the fee stated in my proposal.

Some people just don’t get it…

The craziest part about all of this – these people show up at the next meeting with a smile on their face, with absolutely no clue they have alienated myself from them. I swear some do not even realize I am the person they talked with and pitched. The sales process is robotic to these people. I got news for them. As Social Media continues to evolve and rating, reviews, thumbs up etc. become gospel, these people are going to be looking for work.

So if you ever see me wince when asked, “let’s grab a cup of coffee and chat”, well now you know why. Do you know anyone like the people described above? Don’t you want to just sit them down in a chair, tell them to shut up for a few minutes and show them examples of how they sound? For a fee of course….

One Response

  1. Juan Pablo
    Juan Pablo July 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm | | Reply

    As always, Lewis, down-to-earthness at its best. You certainly have a natural and honest approach to these things which, IMO, makes you the best role model for the job.

    Many more should learn from you…

    Thanks for sharing this :)

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