Listening? –or Zooming One Way down a Two-Way Street?


Friends: Be smarter than this guy was…

Just sat through the worst presentation of a business opportunity program ever. Why? Well, the person I was Zooming with knew over a week ago we would talk, but he never looked at my LI profile. Never checked out my website. Knew nothing about me except for my name.

Therefore, he never knew how inappropriate his words might be for me, specifically. Never realized that I might know something about networking and branding, which are his topics, so he never changed his pitch to reflect the person he was actually talking to.

Autopilot all the way once he got started.

He first asked what I knew about HIM, and I told him I was referred, as he knew. I gave a quick (maybe 30 seconds) summary of my work and my LI connections (I mentioned how many I have, which seemed to surprise him), and that was the last time I spoke for about 10 minutes.

I kept thinking there’d be some back-and-forth, some real conversation, but no. He was on a roll, telling me all the things I need to do to succeed, to build my brand, to network effectively.

Everything he said was appropriate and useful, but NOT. FOR. ME.

Finally, I asked if he had looked at my LI profile or my website, and he said he hadn’t had time; he’d just come from a meeting. Hell, I didn’t mean today … I meant ever!

He plunged back into his pitch as though I hadn’t spoken, not looking at me, not seeing my grimaces, not noticing anything about me. He shared his screen, showing me LI profiles of folks I don’t know for reasons I never quite got. He basically talked at me from a script he has in his head; there was nothing personal in any of it.

Autopilot all the way.

Of course, you know I’m always open to learning new tricks, and I do learn from all of you regularly! But I am not a newbie at networking or building my brand, and his approach could have easily reflected that.

After another 5 minutes, I stopped him with my hands, told him I was not interested, and told him specifically why.

His face showed his shock at what I said and probably how I said it. Give him credit, though: He thanked me for my honesty and said in the future he’d ask questions about the other person. But if he’s only asking someone else about their life because he thinks he has to … it won’t work.

And that’s a real shame on many levels, because I think he’s got some decent ideas about organizing our networking efforts, not just on social media, and there are those who probably could benefit from them. But treating someone like a cardboard cutout, rather than like a real person, isn’t going to help him.

What are your thoughts here, friends?


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. Hello Susan,
    I feel the agony, really do.
    It’s aggravating and frustrating.
    It happens on a daily basis for me. I cannot keep up on a human level with the many DM,s, messages, notifications, and sometimes my own posts. There are numerous requests to zoom and chat which at first seem really great. But upon interaction, I find too that it’s a pitch or a hidden agenda where there is nothing but the bottom line of selling to me or wanting my work for free.
    I’m all about helping, I’m happy to connect with fellow humans. I have learned to ask more questions before accepting. What stands out to me are the ones that know a bit about me or have taken the time to research why our further communication is of interest. It floors me when I receive so much from strangers, and when they pitch right away…and the answers or evidence is right in my profile. It’s a big turn off and I don’t even bother at times. There are also the times I’ll send a direct question back asking why or what exactly sent them my way too. I’ll state…” have you seen my profile? I chuckle when they want to help me increase my followers… and see they have very few… my eyebrow raises many times. It is probably the most used muscle when I am reading messages… very fit I might add.
    Unless someone is familiar to me ( I would recognize engagement in my posts or from some other interaction) then I am using the filter of reason and skepticism. In my mind I say “ show me something, tell me something, that perks my interest”. I get the scope for acquiring customers, but the first rule is to know your client.
    I could go on..and most likely have here….but be comforted in the knowledge you are not alone. When I am referred to someone …if I have asked… I’ll make the move to inquire what they have to offer …if I might need their service, but also need to like them too. Suffice to say, I find out more in the live interaction. It’s a bad taste in my mouth when I hear that one line they might say, or like you, feel like I am not being heard…where my ears turn off and internally waiting for the call to end.
    Now when I see these requests, I’ll see what they have to say and know it’s my choice to ignore or probe.
    I treat it like meeting people on the street, it takes time to get to a point where you would invite them in your home. We are strangers first. If I do not feel safe to do so, I will not hesitate to walk away. We don’t go around door knocking, asking to enter into people’s homes, it’s just not a good way to start if you ask me.
    Sorry for the experience you had and hopefully we will see some changes with how these people learn to do connection right. We teach others how to treat us. If someone wants in my house, I have to invite them and not be blind sighted by their true intentions.
    In any situation …Make it your business to know what a human is.

    That’s my Saturday morning thoughts here, and only two sips of coffee,
    And fresh after just checking my own Messages where there are those exact requests… rolling my eyes… it’s like having salespeople knock on my door any time they please…I’m not answering to strangers these days. ( if they want to get to know me…I post and there’s engagement, people know that’s where I’ll be for the most part…). ..Getting my attention means show me something.

    Lol. Thanks for the morning chance to chew on this Susan. Now for more Java.
    Good luck my lady.

    • Other than that, Paula? Laughing, and thanks so much! My faves have to be the ones that let me know they’ll help my team (my dogs are often amused to know they’re part of my “team”) with whatever, they’ll help me grow my business and my social media connections so I’ll finally succeed on them (with nearly 32,000 LI followers, I think I kind of get how to do that …), sell me several new computers for everyone, etc.

      But that particular incident rankled on many levels, not the least of which was that he was referred to me by someone I’m actually good friends with!

      Hope your coffee and morning are as positive as mine are today, Paula, and thanks for taking the time to comment! 😁

  2. Susan, I am with you 100% of the way. It irks me when I’m treated like a cardboard cutout and the personalization is lax – or nil. Do your homework, build a story that is relative and will resonate with the person you are interacting with, and have a conversation. I’ve accepted connection requests before where after I do, I’ve immediately been hit up with a canned sales pitch – not relevant at all to me. So, I am much more cautious now, and I can usually pick up on the signs.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. You are not alone.

    • Thanks, Laura! The really sad part was I was a referred to him by one of his affiliate leaders and he knew that. I wasn’t expecting a sale pitch for his ideas; I was expecting a conversation to explore things. Oops.

  3. Susan —
    I get a relentless variation on lInkedIn of the situation your reported.
    1. People send a request to connect. I can usually tell if they’re going to try to sell me some six figure income via my coaching or endless guests for my podcast. I hit “Ignore.’
    2. If they look legit, but then start sending me weather updates or the like: “It’s raining here in St. Louis today. How about for you?” I start to get suspicious.
    3. Then, if I almost immediately start to get questions about my business. I delete the connection.

    Asking me about the weather is not relationship building!


  4. Sadly, I think that so many people have gotten their head the wrong way around the old “What is in it for me?”

    It is not what one should think – it is what one should think the other person would what to know. Your comment on Sandy Chernoff’s article being relevant was spot on, Susan: How can we be of service to the person(s) in front of us should drive the communication.

  5. Sadly, Susan, this happens all too often.

    The initiator does not do any homework or preparation before inviting me to connect on LinkedIn. There is rarely a message to go with the invitation. If I write back, inviting a Zoom call, nothing. If I press accept, sometimes message initiating a call (rarely), or more likely a scripted message seeking to screen me in or screen me out.

    No attempt at a relationship whatsoever.

    What most don’t appreciate is that I know a lot of people who I could recommend should I know more and like/trust them.

    For example, I am connected to Ian Brodie, a marketing genius (my words), and whilst I have never used his services, I have recommended him to many people.


    • Sad state of affairs, sometimes, Colin.

      What’s funny to me is that I read your article, then Sandy Chernoff’s, and then realized we three clearly all had similar ideas for an article today!

  6. What’s even worse, Kimberly, is that this was a referral from a client! I just hope she doesn’t ask me how the meeting went … she’s a dear, lovely woman who is part of his affiliate group (that’s what we were supposed to discuss, but I didn’t want that detail in my article), and she highly recommended that he and I talk.


    And yes — I also get those “Now that we’re connected, let me show you all the stuff I sell that I know you’re dying to own!” or variations on the theme. It’s amazing that so many folks just don’t “get it.”

    Nice to be brilliant, right? Hah. 🤣

  7. AHHHHHHHH! Yes! Oh my goodness, Susan, so much YES! I’ve stopped actually setting up calls with people on Linkedin unless we’ve engaged with one another over time. What’s interesting is that people will ask to set up a call, immediately after I accept their connection request, and when I tell them that I’ve made an agreement with myself to wait until we’ve gotten to know one another via engagement first, 98% of them totally disappear. They’re not interested in knowing or engaging with me, they just want to sell me. I’m not interested in being sold by someone who can’t invest in relationship building. Loved this piece. I hope it doesn’t just reach your chorus, but has the possibility to reach those who could benefit from its wisdom.