Do you know what a “bait and switch” is? If not, allow me to explain:

I met a man at a networking event I frequent who expressed interest in learning about one of my products. He asked me about what I did and I told him. He seemed very interested and went on to tell me how speaking has really enhanced his business and that learning how to get a better handle on putting up events or finding speaking opportunities was just what he needed. “I would love to talk to you some more about how it might help me. I could always use help in the speaking department.”

“Great!” I said. We set up a time to connect. That happened today. I started the call the way I usually do with those that want to learn how I might help them:“So tell me what it is you struggle with the most when it comes to public speaking?”

To which he replied, “Actually, I thought we could talk about maybe meeting for a cup of coffee and you could tell me more about you and what you do and you can learn more about what I do. I’m a financial advisor and maybe I can help you in some way or share things with you that, blah, blah, blah…”

 I stopped, pulled the phone closer to my ear and asked, “Are you trying to sell me your service? Because I did tell you about me. Extensively. Last week when we chatted. And it was there you told me you wanted guidance with finding and creating paid speaking opportunities. Did I misunderstand you?”


{what is a bait and switch?}

bait and switchIt’s a sad thing, but some people out there do this.

A bait and switch is when someone “lures” you into meeting with them by feigning interest in your product or service, only to turn the tables and show up with a completely different agenda.

That’s what my guy did.

Had he been honest with me from jump, I might have appreciated him more. I might have shared a lead or two. Unfortunately, because he was dishonest, I have no desire to do business with him.

The rest of the conversation consisted of him trying to backpedal what was clearly a classic case of bait and switch. It wasn’t pretty. I was triggered. He explained that he wanted to network with me and that maybe my contacts would be good for him and his for me, etc.

First of all, let me say that I love networking. I’m all for it. All for it. What I am not all for, however, is someone being disingenuous to get me on the phone so they can pull me in a completely different direction. It’s ugly and it lacks integrity and I highly encourage you not to do it.


{why authenticity works better}

bait and switchI think the most amusing example I have of a bait and switch is when I first started as a coach and speaker.

A young woman I met at an event feigned interest in learning more about becoming a paid keynote speaker. Could I help her? Yes, absolutely. Could we talk more about it? Of course we could. Right then and there we set up a time to talk.

I called her at the scheduled time, reminded her of where she met me and what she wanted to talk about when she interrupted with, “We can chat, for sure, but first I need to know who carries your homeowner’s insurance and what your policy number is.”

I was stunned. “For what?”

“So I can give you a quote.”

“But I didn’t ask for a quote,” I said.

“And I don’t know anything about you,” she said, as if I called her abruptly out of the blue. “I can’t just have a conversation with you if I don’t know about you first.”

Here’s the deal: Don’t be that guy. Or girl.

Don’t pull a bait and switch on anyone. You don’t need to. You don’t need to “lure” someone to the phone by pretending you’re interested in what they do. I promise you don’t. Just be you. Be real. Authenticity will get you soooo much further.

If you meet someone you think you can build a relationship with, just start there. Get to know them. Visit their website. Ask about their family. Maybe you go to lunch, maybe you don’t. It doesn’t matter how it unfolds. Just let it happen naturally. The referrals and the sharing will fall into place soon thereafter.


{how can you avoid a bait and switch?}

bait and switchSo how does one avoid a bait and switch? For starters, be clear on what the meeting is about. Be crystal clear. After you’ve chatted and set up a time to talk, be brave and say, “Just so I’m clear, you want to meet with me to learn more about finding paid speaking and you think I can help you…”

(I should have done this with the financial advisor guy.)

If they stammer and stutter, it’s a sure sign they really don’t want to chat about that. Instead, they want to sell you their widgets, and haven’t figured out yet how to do it with complete integrity.

If they say they just want to meet with you over coffee to get to know you better, I’ll let you make that call. I personally am very selective about who I meet with. In my humble beginnings, I met with everyone for every little thing. But today I have to have a real connection with someone before I “have coffee,” otherwise I’d spend the rest of my life in diners and coffee shops.

Don’t get me wrong here, connecting is crucial. I love people. I love their stories and getting to know them. I’m just encouraging you to listen to your intuition when it comes to setting up meetings. I should have listened to my intuition when it came to my guy above. Something didn’t feel authentic to begin with. I ignored that.

If you want to politely decline a meeting, perhaps because it’s too soon to sit down with someone or your intuition is screaming at you to run away, try something like, “I think getting to know you more would be great. We can do that during these networking meetings. I’m afraid right now I have to reserve “coffee meetings” for clients or for those interested in working with me.”

In the end, be real. Be honest. Be true. It will take you miles further.


Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned freelance writer, blogger, and speaker, based in Central New York.
(No, not New York City. Not even close. 🙂
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