I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post. I feel that I’ve been let down by someone on the very outskirts of my Personal Network – but it’s still disappointing (maybe I’m just too sensitive).
Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve read and reviewed two books by Keith Ferrazzi – and more recently created a post talking about and recommending a free webinar he was offering to preview his Executive Relationship Management Course.
Well since, the point of recommendation, I feel that I’ve been spammed. I’m not bothered for myself – but I feel let down that I’ve recommended and passed on my trust to others (and if they’ve signed up, they might feel spammed too). I’ve had messages like:-
-> Emergency…Keith is going nuts on the webinar…
-> Okay, so maybe we miscalculated…maybe a LOT…
-> Don’t you need more sales and bigger revenues?
-> Your last, last chance for the program…
-> 13 hours and 25 minutes
All emails in that “old style” direct marketing format of calls to actions, links – and PSs!
I feel like I’d met a guy who I liked a couple of times who was an insurance salesman – then invited him to a dinner party with friends and he proceed to dole out business cards and try to sell insurance to my pals.
I can understand why it’s happened. The numbers give a clue – only 250 places, Premium Plus places at $3,988 and Premium places at $1,988. So that’s either a $1m or $500k sales target! We all have to earn a living.
My favourite quote on Personal Networks is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT book, “Personal Networking”)
“By professional networking I mean a set of close contacts or associates who will help deliver my value to market. The key thing is that these are people who will ‘help’ you in the market, THEY ARE NOT THE MARKET. Sorry for the full-on letters, but my definition of a network is ‘people who will help amplify my personal capital in the market’, not a bunch of friends and colleagues to whom I try to sell under the guise of giving them a great opportunity. Active management of these people is not networking; it is client relationship management, a whole different ball game and one deliberately not covered in this book.”
It’s a great mantra – and you can see why Keith’s actions make me feel let down.
I am sure all people who have signed up for the course will learn a lot (I think no less of Keith’s professional abilities), I hope that Keith has made that $1m sales target (his talent does deserve reward) – but the outcome that I wish for most is that Keith reflects that in the process he’s drifted in to becoming the “Networking Jerk” (chapter 6 – “Never Eat Alone”). Keith’s changed from being the Farmer to the Hunter.
The reason I still like the books – and think well of Keith (even though today I feel let down) is that in both his books his ability to recognise and acknowledge his mistakes shows his humanity.
It’s also a lesson for me. I’m just about to launch a commercial venture alongside my passion for Personal Networks. I am sure that in my enthusiasm, eagerness (and maybe a little greed) along the way I will make mistakes too. I now realise there is a very sensitive line in my relationship with my Personal Network.
Especially now when making referrals and connections is made so much easier, I think this area can become rather fraught. I have in the past made a practice of only recommending people who I know will deliver. But then there is this grey area created by the ease of making connections currently — it is tempting, when I encounter someone who might be able to help someone in my network, to make the referral even if I do not know for certain how it will pan out. I have ended up resolving this for myself by being very transparent about referrals in that kind of situation.
I do agree with you that in the current economic climate it is very tempting for all of us to revert to Hunting mode. It is after all how we were “brought up”, if you like, and a total paradigm shift does not happen in a day. The problem is that, not only does the end not justify the means, the means used can change the end and our abiity to achieve it in fundamental ways.
Hi Jeannine. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s good advice to be transparent about referrals. I suppose that in this case, I liked what Keith writes (and still do) and was enthused that someone was talking about Personal Networks. I suppose the change of behavior (hard sell emails) was the shock. Up to that point all blogging, email newsletters, etc from Keith had been very light and informative.
You are right that we are “brought up” as hunters – although probably in a capitalist way rather than putting food on the table. It’s a conflict. I’m focussed on taking my passion for Personal Networks – and turning it in to a business that I will grow (and at some point exit/sell). It’s always a difficult balance, making sure not to “cash in” on relationships along the way!
Phil, I have had these kind of emails as well. They are very old fashioned and really get up my nose to be honest. I have to say, I am surprised that you are so polite in the article above. You make a great point that you do not need to apologise for making. The comments towards the end almost neutralise the impact of the point of the blog. Anyway, From one networker who shares your perspective, to another. Have a great day Phil.
Hi Chris. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You are right – I was polite – you should have seen the initial draft 2 days before I posted this one! Blogging can be too easy to just make it a rant – and it’s not the proper journalistic process of giving the right to reply (yes, I know there’s a comment box). In the end, I’m on a journey to learn from what I see happening around me – and I’ve taken Keith’s goof up as being a warning to me. It’s hard to keep the generosity going some time when either the capitalist “devil” inside you needs a quick fix – or the very commercial colleagues around you want to see the short term gain. Cheers. P
Hi Phil, I completely agree with you. I too have written posts about keith Ferrazzi (including the relationship management course) and am now getting spammed with ‘hot offers’ weekly.
I still respect Keith, his business Ferrazzi Greenlight is amazing and his books are good too, but why spam me? I’m less interested in reading his blog posts and emails now as they’ve turned into a sales pitch. I think it’s time he changed his angle and dropped the hard sell.
Great post, Phil. You wrote exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling.
Thanks for the post. It’s interesting that in his books that he talks about times when he’s got it wrong – and I think he’s in one of those phases now!
I am sure we can all think of times when we’ve been a bit thoughtless – and tried to race things on through our Personal Network and “make a sale”/hit an objective. These days, I’m very much in to the idea that your Personal Network is the support team (small or large) who help you get where you want to go (and reciprocally you take that role for them). They are NOT the people you SELL to – although it doesn’t mean they won’t buy! Talking here in the commercial sense – as Personal Networks are so much more than just that!
Great to hear from you – and thanks for the encouraging feedback. Blogging can be an isolating task – and it’s nice to get comments.