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 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and 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 to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.


  1. 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.

  2. 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!


  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  5. 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. 🤣

  6. 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.







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