Listen to your gut, with your head

Earlier this year, I started doing some marketing outreach. Working with my mentor and a group of other creatives, I came up with a campaign to reach out to some new potential clients that are doing interesting things. I did this mostly as an experiment—all of my current work is repeat or referral-based, but I wanted to try something new, push myself to meet some new people and get out of my comfort zone a bit. As the pandemic has taught us, anything can happen, and even if I have plenty to do right now, being proactive is never a bad thing.

My little marketing group meets once a week, and we share our successes and lessons learned, and invariably someone always wants to know what the “right” answer is for any given situation…should I call the prospect or email them? Should I connect on LinkedIn? How do I respond when they say X, Y or Z? Unfortunately, there is no magic, one-size-fits-all answer—every case is different.

What I learned from my marketing outreach experiment

So far, I’ve found that about half of the people I reach out to, never respond at all. The others don’t need my services right now, but we’ll keep in touch via my newsletter. The few that are basically saying, “thanks, but no thanks” are the ones that I’m not sure what to do with. Do I ask to keep in touch in case their needs change? Connect via LinkedIn instead? Just say thanks, and leave them alone?

Each of those cases has a different answer (and I’m never sure if that answer is right or not). I find that I first listen to my gut—is it telling me that I should try to keep in touch, or leave them alone? Once I have that answer, I check in with my head to make sure that I’m thinking it through logically and not basing my decision on an emotional or fear reaction. It only takes a few seconds, but has helped me move past my default “just leave them alone” to actually putting myself out there and making connections. That’ll get easier with time, and luckily the stakes are low, so it’s easy practice.

What would you want someone like me to do in that situation? If you had been the one responding to me with a “thanks, but no thanks”, would you be comfortable with me keeping in touch via email or connecting with you on LinkedIn? Or would you prefer to be left alone? Let me know what you think!