Researching the Women's Market - What They Leave Out
On the road to Colorado

How *NOT* to Ask Someone Whom You Don't Know to Use their Social Juice to Help You

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia

Underthebus Warning: This blog post is long, but worth it.

Last week, on November 8th at 12:26pm, I received a voice mail from Michelle Christie representing a group of local women who were getting together having some sort of event. They called themselves Motivators & Creators and they were having a Women's Expo on November 23rd, at a local hotel and wanted my help promoting the event.

As this was my first week back from being out of the office for a retreat, I asked my assistant to call her back and get the pertinent details. (I would have asked my assistant to call her back, retreat or no retreat, but my schedule was especially abundant due to my being out of the office the week prior.) I wanted to know the usual things:

  • How did they hear of me? Did anyone refer them? If so, who?
  • Do they want me to speak or just attend?
  • How many people are they expecting?
  • Who are the other businesswomen involved?
  • How EXACTLY do they want me to help them?

I don't think these things are too unreasonable to know if you're fielding a request from someone whom you don't know to promote their event. Do you? I don't either.

So, my assistant tries for a week to get in touch with her and finally...

they speak. The synopsis of the conversation they had that I received from my assistant was horrible. Here's a sprinkling (written in my assistant's voice):

  • When I called her, she had no idea who you were or why she would have called you. -I- had to remind HER of the event and what she said and such.
  • It appears that they just search for women-owned businesses in your area to get them to promote this event for them. She essentially said that they would have thought you'd have lots of connections in the area, and they want you to use those connections to get people to attend the event.
  • She said you're welcome to attend, but that it's a seminars-type event (and the seminars are full for speakers).
  • The woman wasn't too interested in talking to me. She said she'd rather just talk to you instead of a "third party".

Let me start with a few things:

  1. You should NEVER pick up the phone and cold call someone and ask them to help you promote your event. Asking someone to use their social juice needs to be based on having developed a relationship with that person -- and because the two of you are women means nothing. I LOVE to support women business owners (in fact, 95% of our clients are women!), but I'm like Deitrich Bonhoeffer in this regard, I don't believe in cheap grace. Being a woman businessowner opens the door to a conversation with me, but you need to be serious about your business to get through to me. At the VERY LEAST, Michelle should have called and invited me to attend the event as her guest and then asked me to invite anyone else whom I thought would be a good fit.(As it turns out, NO ONE I know is a good fit for this kind of a shindig.)
  2. When you call people to ask for their participation in your event, you need to keep track of whom you called and why. You look like a MORON when YOU don't know why YOU called someone.
  3. She CLEARLY didn't do any research on me or my past speaking engagements -- which are all readily available on my website and in my bio. If she did, she would know that events like this are not my forum.
  4. If anyone is EVER rude to my assistant or refers to her as a "THIRD PARTY" (especially to her face), not only will I never attend one of their events, but I will NOT hesitate to throw them under the bus publicly. Doubt me? Ask Michelle Christie.

For those of you who are thinking why I chose to throw this group and Michelle under the bus by using their name and not keeping everything anonymous, I have two things to say. I am violently committed to helping women businessowners succeed and if I were to keep identifying details "under wraps", then there's a chance that this group will do this again to someone else. They need to learn that this is NOT the way to treat people with whom you want to connect. And, this, people, is what's called a teachable moment.

Also, women businessowners don't have time to futz around with people who don't respect them or other women businessowners. Consider this time saved -- at least with this organization.Keeping the identifying details a secret would in some way reward this company and they clearly are not deserving of that. This wasn't just an error made on their part -- they were RUDE to my team.

Am I posting this on Lipsticking in hopes that more than likely more businesswomen will see this post and deal with this group accordingly? You bet.

There...TOTAL transparency.


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Wow, I'm totally stunned that this kind of thing happens so often.

I'm glad I spoke up and although it's a horrible practice, I'm just glad that it's not just me and I haven't turned into some kind of a grump for not wanting to get involved with crappola like this.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Kelly Stevens

Hi there Lena

Great post. This happens in our office an average of 4 times a day!

We get masses of emails from businesses asking us to promote their events and services to our members, which is crazy when you consider that we run a membership organisation and that my members pay for the opportunity to promote their services to each other. Some business people seem to see my members as ‘sitting ducks’ for their promotional message, and I’m fiercely protective of them.

We’ve also had the situation where when one of my staff have rung them to ask exactly what they want us to do, they have no recollection of emailing us as it was just a standard email sent to any company relating to women.

We do sometimes promote non members events, but like another of your commenters mentioned its where we know the person/company, have built a relationship with them, and can see a really tangible benefit for our members.



Agreed - what's with that? While I do believe there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women, I think when people start taking liberties and assuming, that's a problem for everyone.

The weird thing is, the day AFTER I wrote this blog post, I got an invitation from them to be a member of some online group they own. Clearly NO ONE is at the wheel and they're just doing stuff to do stuff. So frustrating when women do crap like that!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Mary Schmidt

I don't consider it "throwing under the bus" - they approached you - cold and unsolicited.

And,women - in my experience - tend to be particularly guilty of expecting other women to help, simply because we're women. I'm all for helping others, but there's a difference between abuse and helping.



What's the saying? It's not what you do, it's HOW you do it.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Victoria Crowe

I absolutely LOVED this article, Lena! 100% on the mark, as usual. That's right - it's not always a win all-around, but that doesn't excuse mistreating people - ever.

We can all use being reminded to CHECK your behavior & put some effort into the way you act towards other human beings.

I am frequently accused of being too transparent myself; but the truth is the truth, so deal with it because SOMEONE is always observing. Think about what you'd want repeated/shared with others in regard to your actions/words spoken.

Thank you once again, Lena.

I added a link to this on my site, and I hope that's alright with you - GOT TO share this one!

Lena L. West

Absolutely, Diane!

It can't always be a win-win, but we all need to make the effort. And, sometimes the effort doesn't work out as planned, but it's the thought that counts. People and their networks are not commodities that can be turned on like a light switch. People are PEOPLE and need to be treated as such.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Diane Danielson/CEO, Downtown Women's Club

Hi Lena - I think you tackled something head on that many of us deal with on a daily basis. It seems the lesson here is "If you want someone to use their network that they worked hard to build up over time to your benefit: (1) get to know them first; and/or (2) offer them some way to participate/benefit."


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