You’ve noticed that I’ve recently written several articles on the “art” of networking and marketing, especially for writers trying to get their foot in the door, be it in the film industry with their screenplays, or through their novels. When I provide such advice, I generally design it to the “Do’s” and the “Don’ts” of the networking, etc.
One of the biggest “Don’ts” – and one of my PERSONAL pet peeves – is when someone reaches out to connect with me in some fashion; linking in or friending; and, when it’s accepted, almost IMMEDIATELY asks for favors. These favors often come in the form of solicitation for funds, requests to read scripts, requests for script analysis, feedback notes, producing their project or introducing them to some network connection. Never is there an offer of reimbursement, or ANY kind of offer to exchange the favor.
More importantly, they are asking this of a COMPLETE STRANGER to them. I’ve never minded helping a friend, a colleague or a peer- even if they were new connections, but in those cases, some sort of rapport was established. I was familiar with a post or two they made, or a comment or response on a thread. They showed interest.
Case in point: I just received a message/request through LinkedIn from someone we’ll call “JC”. I’m calling him that because I don’t want to divulge his identity and embarrass him, but also because that’s his true first name on his profile! 😉
Here’s the message (some edits were made to make it legible):
“Geno – I’ve got a new project I wanted to get your opinion tell me what u think. I also have a video and TV streaming service, just finished filming in Flint, MI about water crisis…Do u mind if I send the sizzle to you thanks. If you can’t do anything with it can u forward it to others please…Also have a cannabis educational Video company were turning into a 30 min show traveling across the world to 420 sites shoot me your email I’ll send info Thanks for your time have a great day today and a better tommorow!”
Besides the obvious misspellings and grammatically horror story this is, the edited portions included the names of six or seven other projects he was “pitching”. What started out as a general request for “feedback”, turned into a full-blown pitch on, at least, eight different projects!
It was also VERY obvious to me, by the spacing of some of the sentences, that this was, in fact, a “cut-and-paste” letter, which included one piece of personal exchange: my first name.
Here was my (edited) response:
“Okay- there’s a lot of information here in this cut-and-paste form letter. Not sure what it is exactly you’re looking for. Are you hiring me to do something for you? I’m not sure we’ve even ever chatted or sent prior messages before this, so it’s somewhat a blast out of the blue.”
Not the friendliest of responses, but I’m not going for friendly. I’m going for facts.
His response to my questions was to send me a link to his promo video and his screenplay- both unsolicited. He didn’t even bother to respond to my questions.
I wrote back, and, yes, I was a bit testy. I already know what I was ultimately going to do with these requests, but he really pushed the envelope.
“Did you even READ my message to you? You didn’t answer my questions. I realize you’re a very busy professional, and it’s easier just to send attachments to save time, but you really should READ the message and at least TRY to answer the questions first before sending attachments w/o NDA’s and such…”
Finally, his next response made it clear that he discovered the errors of his ways, and he was falling all over himself in apologies, embarrassment and shame for his total unprofessionalism.
“Geno I appreciate u looking at Chasing Glory I have other projects can u also forward to your connects”
Needless to say, I tossed the attachments, and never once viewed either. He’ll wonder why he’s not getting any responses to his professional queries and he’ll brag about his vast network (we’re NOT connected anymore, but I don’t want to block him just yet).
The answer is because this guy is a tool; a total dick. Don’t be this guy. Don’t be a dick.