Don’t be a Small-Business Jerk!

Sales people and small business owners can be some of the most selfish people on the planet.

Now before you get all wound up and remind me that you are the one taking the risk and “stepping out there”, let’s have this conversation.

We all get it. You are changing the world.

Sadly, another $1.50 and you can get breakfast at Denny’s.

What’s my point?

Don’t be a jerk.

Seriously. I am not trying to be rude (or funny) here.

We are quick to point our finger at Fortune 100 companies and lambast them for horrible customer service or annoying direct marketing campaigns that flood our email inboxes.

Right?

And that stuff is pretty awful.

But take a quick minute and think about your recent tactics.

Do you use a “guilt trip” sales pitch?

When you make me feel bad for not buying your widget you might generate short term revenue, but I will quickly avoid you at all costs.

Heck. Even if you are trying to buy me coffee or something nice like that, I don’t want to risk hearing you give me a sob story about not hitting your quota or how bad business is.

I don’t care. OK. Let me restate that. I do care. And if I can help you I will. Seriously.

Better yet, if you have a product that I want to buy I will do that -- and probably not argue with you about the cost.

But when you make me feel badly -- that’s just not cool. It’s costing you revenue and referrals (which might the more valuable of the two).

You are being a jerk.

Stop it!

Do you network like you’re a dead-man-walking?

There is no need to “work the room” that hard. There are 17 other networking functions this month. Don’t wear out my palm trying to connect me into oblivion.

Make a plan when you go to these networking functions. Are you looking for business, for advice, for new ideas?

Whatever you are looking for, here are two guiding words:  CALM DOWN!

Less frantic. More sincerity.

People don’t like to be worked over. It’s a little whorish. Right?

Move slowly from person to person and offer kind, engaging words. Ease into the discussion and ease your way out. Don’t just shake a hand, shove out a business card, and move to the next person.

Ohhh... and one more thing. Only give your card to people that you want to talk to down the road.

You’re better than that.

You really are changing the world.

And if you happen to be close one morning, I’ll buy you that breakfast.

Just don’t be a jerk.

This post was originally written (a while ago) for Greenville Business Magazine in a slightly different format. I re-read it, got inspired, and thought you might enjoy…