Just Say No!
I have spent most of my career in sales. My favorite response from a potential client was, of course, YES. My second favorite (and a very close second answer) was NO! I love NO! "No" would give me a starting point. I could find out what the objection was and work on proving my case. If I could not, and the account wasn't worth my time to pursue, I could close the loop. If I was getting enough "no's" than sure enough, a "yes" would follow.
As an Angel Investor, I get pinged on LinkedIn daily. I respond to about 95% of the people who reach out to me. And, most of the time, I direct them to my profile which details how companies can apply for investment through my angel investing group, 37 Angels. [Side note, if you are reaching out cold on LinkedIn, read the person's profile first to see if you have any mutual connections and to get background on the investor to know if they would be a potential match.] If they are pitching a service or product I don't need, I tell them no straight away. Why do I do this? One, it takes a minute to do so. Two, it closes the loop for them. And three, I am following the lead of the most successful people I know.
I reach out to people a lot to ask them if I can interview them for The Failure Report, to get investment advice or feedback on projects. Surprisingly, some of the busiest, most accomplished people get back to me on cold outreach. I am always impressed when I get a response back.
When I reach out cold, I do not expect to get an answer. When I reach out to someone who I know personally or have had prior communication with, I hope to get a response. Occasionally, I receive no response, just crickets. They have a relatively new word for this that comes from the dating world-ghosting. Professional ghosting is when a business contact becomes unresponsive to all forms of communication, without explanation. I am not a fan of this practice at all! Don't be afraid to tell someone "no." "No" closes the loop, not answering does not. I had a very high-profile person give me a polite "white lie" no. That works! So, my advice is to be clear, transparent, and responsive in all your communication. Don't be afraid to "just say no."