Make Specific Pitches

One of the things that you will notice after receiving a number of pitches is the number of vague pitches. It is a surprisingly large number.

The pitch goes something like this—“This is what I do. Now figure out how you can help me.”

“This is what I do. Now figure out how you can help me.”

It’s not very appealing for a number of reasons: it can be off-putting, and even slightly insulting if the pitcher hasn’t even taken the time to really look into what you do. More importantly, vague pitches make it much harder for anybody to help.

Vague pitches make it much harder for anybody to help.

Everybody only has a certain amount of time in their lives to dedicate to different causes. Helping out somebody is a good thing, but ultimately, you are the arbiter of your own time. Nothing can be more valuable—even a billionaire who has everything in the world will eventually run out of time.

You can and should choose who you help, and that starts with whether or not you’re getting vague or specific pitches.

Those making pitches can help you help them by making it clear what they need, and if they can, how they can pay it forward.

Which is more appealing?

A: “Hi stranger, my name is Peter.  Not really sure what you do, but you seem generally awesome.

I run a startup called RealKarma, what we do is change the world through giving everybody access to a mobile application that allows you to upvote and downvote your friends and enemies (mostly enemies) in real-time.

This will change the world because we’re revolutionizing real-life paradigm interaction shifting, which will inevitably lead to revolutionizing real-world people.

We’re like the Reddit of real life. You can easily tell who is really bad at pitching by the number of downvotes that follow them. I think we’re going to change the world, and 80,000 other people think so too, so we must be onto something. Bye.”

B: “Hi Roger, my name is Peter. I saw your article on TechCrunch the other day on Radish (really big fan of the concept!), and I figured you might like to write on RealKarma, a startup I’m running.

We’re a “real-world” Reddit, a mobile application that allows you to ping when your known friends or enemies are being assholes, or saints (but mostly when they’re being assholes).

I was really excited when I realized 80,000 people needed this in their lives: maybe you do too.

I’d love to give you more details so you can write on this in your startups column. I can pay it forward by sharing the article on our social media outlets, and giving you future tips. Really look forward to working with you.”

Specific pitches work. They let everybody know exactly what is on the table, and they make people feel comfortable about their interaction with one another. One of the worst feelings you can get is that vague feeling that somebody is asking you for help, but you can’t figure out what exactly it is they want from you, so you don’t even have enough information to properly say no or yes.

Few people will say no to a good proposal, so long as they think it’s worth their time, and it’s made clear exactly what is expected of them.

When you’re making pitches, be courteous enough of the other’s person time to offer something in return, and to get to know what they do. Explain what you’re doing while keeping the jargon and exaggeration to a minimum.

Don’t be afraid of nos. No is always better than I don’t know.

Don’t be afraid of nos. No is always better than I don’t know.

Make specific pitches. Get people to act. Be clear on what you want, and sooner or later, if you work hard enough for it, you will get it.

*If someone comes up with Reddit for your friends and enemies, I want to be on your board, just to see what a shitstorm that would unleash. 

The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rogerh1991.