“If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank.
“Have you heard the good word?” – random strangers in white shirts on bikes
I have often joked that I firmly believed that Voyager and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program basically turned us into the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the universe. I mean, really, we’re blindly blasting these messages like knocks on the door across the galaxy proudly announcing “Hi! We’re here! Could we just have a few moments of your time to talk with you about the exciting news that…”
Somewhere out there, someone has a blog titled “Don’t Be That Species”…and it’s all about us. That’s why we haven’t gotten any responses yet – they’re hiding in the other room so we don’t know they’re home.
If only we had that option with That Guy…
Jehovah’s Witness guy shows up in our LinkedIn group and starts immediately posting about whatever friggin’ seminar they’re trying to get people to spend $30 a head to attend. Or linking to some random event for some group completely unrelated to our members that he thinks everyone in the free world should know about and love. Or throwing up links to some third-party, membership-based website that allegedly has some new and exciting information that you must have right now! Or, even better, gets in the group and starts knocking on people’s doors by sending them emails on the sly to try and get them to hit some pay to play event.
Jehovah’s Witness guy shows up at a networking event…not to, you know, network…as much as he’s there to “pitch”. He wants to make absolutely sure that you know about the product he’s hawking. He has to be certain that every. single. person. in the room. has heard his shpiel…whether that’s by circling the group like some half-witted shark looking for even slower-witted prey or just by using his “outside voice” so that people in the private rooms out back don’t miss this golden opportunity.
I treat them the same way I treat the real deal when they knock on my door on those random Saturday mornings when I’m just settling in with some coffee. If I’m simply in no mood, they get told to go hop back on their silly little bikes and pedal their ass away from me before I get cranky. If I’m feeling a little more playful, I’ll invite them in for a chat…because, and I know this will come as a shock to some of you, I’ve got something of a religious background. I’ve read the Bible a number of times. I’m no theologian by any means…but I’m good enough to usually make them start questioning their faith by about the twenty minute mark, and none has ever lasted more than thirty.
Trust me, one of the last things you want to do is get a room full of sarcastic geeks who have had a few beers mad at you. Don’t get me wrong – you’re in no real physical danger or anything (we’re still geeks, after all) but you may wake up the morning after to find your website has been filled with…let’s just call them “unsavory” images…and the FBI knocking on your door to talk about your posts on Craigslist.
Okay…maybe we won’t go that far…but we’ll at least make fun of you after you leave and then write snarky articles about you. Bazinga!
So please…leave your bikes, your pamphlets, your black pants, your white shirt, your black tie, and most importantly – your pitch – at the door. Doesn’t matter if it’s the virtual one to our LinkedIn group or the physical one at one of our events. If you’re a decent person, and you get to know the group and a few folks in it, and you see a possible opening…run with it. We’re mostly good with it at that point. We’ve got people discussing products and services all of the time – but they’re the folks that have established a beachhead in the group first. Which isn’t as hard as, say, Normandy…but we’re no spamfest, either.
And if you can’t do that…well, we suggest that you watch the movie 2010, and pay particular attention to the closing scenes…
ALL THESE GROUPS ARE YOURS
EXCEPT IT IN THE D
ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE
That’s all for this time, folks…
Make sure you check out our other Don’t Be That Guy entries…