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If You Want Someone’s Time, Take 2 Minutes to Prepare


“Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have.” – Ed Bradley

I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. Busy is the new black. But here’s the thing, if you want a slice of my time so I can help you with something, please take 2 minutes to prepare. This isn’t just about wasting someone else’s time but rather, it’s about wasting an OPPORTUNITY.

A few examples to explain…

Yesterday, I finally had lunch with a woman I met at a networking event in April. We’ve had multiple dates on the calendar but her schedule kept getting moved. I ran into her at a few events in the past few weeks and we finally set a date. I assume I got to the top of the list because last time I saw her she told me she was interested in doing more speaking and wanted an introduction to my speakers bureau. I get this a lot so I spent a few minutes on Google and LinkedIn checking her out. If I’m going to be helpful, I like to be informed.

At lunch she was clearly interested in only one thing. No “get to know you” and no pretense. She jumped in with her ask. Except that she did not find out anything about me ahead of time. What I spoke about, why I got gigs and most surprising, she didn’t know the name of my speakers bureau. Honestly, it taken less than a minute to Google: “Anat Baron Speaker” and find out everything you need to know. I asked her a few questions and explained that I don’t think it’s a fit. I did mention another person who speaks and that she could talk to him. She then asked me who he was represented by. I took out my phone and Googled “XY Speaker” and showed it to her. Really?

Related: It’s Not About Who You Know; It’s About Who Knows You

Once she saw that I wasn’t going to open the door she expected, she moved on. What else do I do? Seriously? We are connected on LinkedIn. It’s right there. I explained (patiently) that I have a tech startup. Without missing a beat she started pitching her company to me. I give her credit for the hustle but… had she scrolled down to the rest of my experience, she would have seen that I have way more marketing experience than she does. Not that this is a contest. But why would I consider hiring anyone who didn’t take a couple of minutes to find out SOMETHING about me? Luckily the rest of the lunch was cut short (she had a wellness appointment) and I felt sad. For her. She completely missed a chance to start a relationship with someone who could feed her business. She was so focused on her immediate need. Checking her box. That she missed the bigger picture.

Last week, I got on a call with a CMO of a startup here in LA. I’d received an email from someone at his company saying they wanted to start a speaker series and would I talk with his boss. I responded that I am a paid speaker with a link to my speakers bureau. I wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t waste each other’s time. I was assured that yes, that is why he wanted to talk. On the appointed day and time, I called the number provided. The CMO wasn’t expecting my call and told me he was outside getting fresh air. After chit chatting about the weather, I asked him to get to the point of the call. He told me about this idea that he had and asked if I was interested. I asked him if he knew anything about me. He sheepishly admitted that he didn’t have time to check me out and that his summer interns were setting these calls up for him. Wow.

I wish I could say that I was gracious. I told him very clearly that he was wasting my time. And that any chance he had of my helping him with his “idea” evaporated. I explained that prior to the call I took a few minutes to look him up as well as his company. To me, being informed (even on a surface level) always leads to better interactions. I’m sure he thought I was being a bitch but I hope that maybe something I said would resonate.

That same week, I had drinks with someone a mutual friend had introduced me to. We found out on our initial call that we had similar interests and opinions. She told me that she is fundraising for her startup. She’s not getting far and asked for introductions. I get asked for this all the time. And while I’m happy to make introductions, there needs to be context and some vetting. I want there to be a chance of success.

Related: Why No One Cares About Your Idea

I asked for her deck on our initial call and gave her some seed funds to check out. When we met, I gave her feedback on the deck. She didn’t seem interested. Her prerogative. I then explained that she needed to research the VCs and come back to me if there’s a fit. I explained that I had made an introduction to one of the partners and my friend got a no at the very end of the process because… she wasn’t prepared. I didn’t want this to happen again. I want my introductions to matter. Suffice to say that when she got back to me, she simply sent an email and asked for the connection. No substance. No why. No way!

I know I sound like a broken record because this isn’t the first time I’ve written about this. Somehow either I’m not being clear or this whole shortcut culture is winning. I hope it’s a fad. In the end, no matter how people embellish their success story, it (almost) always comes down to hard work. So PLEASE just do your f*cking homework. It’s so easy. Everything you need to know is in the palm of your hand, a few clicks away.

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