Cold call guilt trip? I’m not going.

Go away and stop bothering me!

You know how sometimes you need to get something off your chest, but there’s a risk you’ll sound like a jerk if you don’t say everything just right, so you bite your tongue? This is one of those situations for yours truly but an email just hit my inbox that’s forcing me to be all “out with it!”

What’s my gripe? It’s all the business development types lurking on LinkedIn and their new tactic of cold call guilt tripping. You know who they are: Sales people. Consultants. Modern day peddlers. I get their deal, I really do. They have to make a living and cold calls are what they turn to after they’ve left a message for everyone in their digital Rolodex. Fair enough. They’ve got kids and responsibilities, SOs who order $15 glasses of wine, enormous smart phone bills, and subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Vudu,  Dudu, SlingTV, HBO, Showtime and 24-x-7 Trump. They need gas money, and maybe a little something for booze and blow. I’m not here to judge.

But let’s acknowledge an important fact about our business relationship:  I don’t know them and I didn’t ask them to contact me. I’ll admit there is maybe the tiniest of tiny, nano particle-sized chances I could be interested in what they’re selling, based on what I do, which they discovered by looking at my LinkedIn page. But we have no deal. No bargain. No agreement, implied or otherwise. They knew before they hit send they were taking a dizzy, blindfolded shot in the dark, and that they had as much chance of landing me as a customer as they do of winning a lottery (not the Powerball, maybe, but you know, a local jackpot worth hundreds of thousands of dollars).

It used to be they’d send me a short email introducing themselves and their offerings, and maybe they were so bold as to ask if I have time for a meeting. If I didn’t respond, they’d follow up a week or so later, and if they didn’t hear from me a second time, they’d disappear, correctly reading no response as irrefutable evidence of no interest. I was cool with that. There’s no harm in asking.

But it now seems filling my inbox with unsolicited offers isn’t enough. Now they want me to feel guilty for not taking them up on their kind offer to demonstrate how their product or service will help me climb the corporate ladder of success. If they don’t hear back from me in short order, they unleash their “I’m assuming you didn’t see my email because I know if you had you would have responded like a kind, polite person instead of a heartless hater of children, mothers and America” hounds. And it gets worse if they have to follow up a third or, heaven forbid, a fourth time.

But here’s the deal: I’m not playing. I don’t feel the slightest guilt for my lack of interest in what they want to show me. I’m busy. I have deadlines. Meetings. Facebook is calling. I need to learn Snapchat. I just got an invitation to play Candy Crush. I haven’t budgeted any time for responding to digital peddlers who want me as a client, and I’m not going to. I don’t answer my desk phone anymore because of all their “Did I catch you at a bad time?” calls. And now they’re after my inbox.

Dear digital peddler: If you want to send me an email, go for it. It’s cool. Everyone has their gig. If I’m interested in what you’re selling and want to learn more, I’ll let you know. If I’m not, I’ll delete your email and go back to Angry Birds. I don’t owe you the moment it would take to open it. I don’t owe you the few minutes it would take to read it and ponder whether or not I really need what you’re selling. And I sure as heck don’t owe you a 30-minute call to explain why I’m not interested, even if that would make me a bona fide prince of a guy riding a purple pony with a rainbow-colored mane and tail.

Please, if you don’t hear from me (and by if I mean when), draw a line through my name and email address, and move on to the next person on your list.

I promise I won’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt.


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