Fellow digital nomads, we all recognize it by now. The thinly veiled lead magnet posed as a friendly question in a Facebook group. “Is anyone else interested in X? PM me for details or comment here.” “What’s your biggest struggle with X?” or “I figured out how to get 20k followers on Instagram in one week, comment if you want more info”. Hell, I’ve done it myself.
These things inadvertently get you on their mailing list and start your journey down this person’s sales funnel.
Now, before you attack, I’m not against selling as a concept. I’m happy to buy a product I actually NEED. When I’m actually SEEKING it out, I’m happy to receive business advice or suggestions. I’m just tired of the spamming and the scarcity tactics being used to convince me I need shit that I really, really don’t.
It’s why I haven’t owned a TV since I lived with my parents. Call me a hippy if you will, I don’t care.
Everyone wants to work remotely these days, and with good reason.
Still, it seems as soon as you put the words “remote” or “entrepreneur” on something, people are suddenly willing to throw their souls down the toilet.
It’s our generation’s equivalent of the sales call at dinner time.
A week ago I was finally pushed over the edge.
I friend a lot of people on Facebook as I travel and like to get in touch with people who will be where I am. It’s always based on a shared interest. Usually we’re both vegan, or queer, or they know a friend of mine. I usually do this with the goal of making a real, live, human connection. How novel.
Lately people have started to spam me with their services in my private Facebook messages. When I post questions about something I’m struggling with at work, or mention leaving a job/client, I immediately get all of these messages from people who dropped off the face of the earth, but are now suddenly interested in my life now that my last job is hot off the presses.
The last straw was when I shared something on Facebook that upset me at work, describing in detail how it made me sad, and a digital nomad acquaintance used it as a lead in to try and sell their (unrelated) services in the comments. They literally forced a not very smooth turn of the conversation to pitch me their website creation services…in a post I made about how I was sad that my colleagues forgot I was vegan at my own goodbye party. This is especially ridiculous as I offer website creation services myself, have been a WordPress Blogger since 2013 doing all the tech on my own blogs, and can even freaking code myself. So…if you’re going to pitch me inappropriately (please don’t), at least do a tiny bit of research on me first.
To you people I say: Fuck Right The Hell Off.
You know who I am going to hire? Who I am going to recommend to my former job/client, and whose content I’m actually going to share? Not yours.
I’m going to hire/share/recommend the people who actually took the time to get to know me in real life, and want to talk to or spend time with me even if it doesn’t give them an economic advantage.
It’s great to earn six figures, and it’s important to our happiness to earn enough to not worry how we’re going to make rent this month, sure.
If I get sick and die tomorrow, I want my tombstone to say more than, “She created really great sales funnels and had 500+ LinkedIn contacts and 50k Instagram followers.”
My LinkedIn contacts are not going to be there when I’m suffering through my next break up, or when I’m old and shitting my pants and need someone to run and grab me a refill of adult diapers. Or hey, if we’re talking business, they probably won’t be there next time I’m out a client either.
Okay, having a business network separate from your personal one is a useful thing. Making your clients your BFFs can make it awkward come payday sometimes, I get that.
I’m just not sure when we communally forgot the importance of real, human connection. Didn’t we become digital nomads to have more time to travel and connect with those we love to begin with?
One of the reasons I left my “normal” job (besides wanderlust) is that I was tired of having two distinctly different versions of myself: The professional stoic one who repressed most of what she actually was, and the one who is authentically herself. I’m not interested in going back to this now that I’m self-employed.
Here’s the most ridiculous part of it to me: Striving for connection instead of immediately going for the sale does not mean there can’t be any selling involved.
You know who I reach out to when I need some sort of business service? My friends whom I know to be real, authentic humans sharing my values, and whose work I’ve passively observed as I got to know them as a person. If they don’t offer what I’m looking for, then I ask them for recommendations.
You know who I recommend or tag when I see an opportunity come up? My friends.
Doesn’t have to be my best friends, but you know, the people I sense aren’t just out there to trample over me in their mission to the top. I get as new freelancers or business owners we can get a bit afraid and desperate for new clients, but desperate spamming is not going to instill confidence in someone concerning your services. It doesn’t show someone how you two are the right fit.
You know who has helped get me the most jobs and clients? You see where I’m going here right? It’s my friends.
They say 80% of jobs are never publicly posted, and this has been true for me.
When I first moved to Berlin, with no visa, having just left a terrible au-pair gig I should never have signed up for to begin with, I whined about my life on Facebook. A friend from college who had never even been to Germany managed to connect me with my next client. I’d go on to work with them for over two years. They even wrote me all the letters I needed to get a more favorable working visa in the country. It was her best friend from growing up’s brother’s wife who ended up interviewing me and being my supervisor.
A day trip to Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi with my good friend who recommended me to her company.
My highest paying gig in Berlin at the time of writing? It happened because I texted my friend to ask if she wanted to go to the high-ropes course with me on a Saturday. She said she couldn’t make it because she was in Dubai for a client and followed with, “hey, actually, do you need work?”. She had realized the project her company took on was way bigger than expected. I was on a plane to Dubai for a project management gig with her client 24 hours later.
My last salaried job? A friend forwarded it to me with a note that said, “hey, this looks perfect for you!”. I had seen the job but disregarded it as the job title didn’t seem to fit me. My friend forwarding it made me reconsider. I ended up working there happily for over two years.
These are people I am friends with simply because I like them as people. I assume they like me as a person as well. Whether or not they give me a job or a lead, I will still be friends with them. It’s because they are awesome. I know that because I took the time to get to know them.
People complain all the time about how everyone gets jobs through their connections and how they hate networking and it’s sooooo “not fair!“
Newsflash: Networking is just making friends.
I bet damn well you’re more likely to recommend your real friends over some stranger on the internet too, are you not?
So stop trying to sell me your course, your eBook, or your service. Stop PMing me asking how I am when you don’t actually care. Quit making blanket nice comments just because you want me to join your business mastermind group, or your mailing list, or share your content on my blog. I see you responding to my questions on Facebook with only barely related “advice” just because you want to sneak in your affiliate link. I can tell when something is genuine, most of us can.
If I post saying I’m looking to hire a photographer, or a web designer, or whatever, by all means, share your portfolio. Reach out in the way I asked you to reach out.
Reach out to me because you like who I am as a person, or you relate to something I wrote, and I’ll do the same. I pay attention to what my friends are doing career-wise because I’m curious about their professional lives and trust their judgement.
You bet if we’re friends I’ll hire or buy from you first, but there’s no shortcut to that.
So digital nomads, please remove your souls from the toilet. Stop spamming me with your shit when I didn’t ask for it. It looks desperate, and the DN corner of the internet is already oversaturated with it.
(Whew. I feel better now. Been meaning to get that off my chest.)