This morning while taking care of my daughter, I got a call on my office line. I know I should have ignored it. After all, the caller ID said “Unknown”. Since I don’t know anyone by that name, it was probably a cold-call. I ignored my gut instinct.

I always regret doing that. It was a cold-call.

Since the very best cold-calls are really networking in microcosm, let’s count up the broken rules of good networking that I was then subjected to.

It was a caller — we’ll call her “Kelly” — who claimed to be from the University of Michigan Football sales office. She was selling advertising in their program. She then proceeded to read to me how much it would cost for each size of advertisement, from one-sixteenth of a page all the way up to a full page. She also told me about other tech companies who purchased the various sizes. I should note that she was contacting me because my company, Cyber Data Solutions, LLC, has done work with the University and still has some active projects there.

Broken Rule #1: Ask, Don’t Tell. Kelly didn’t waste any time talking with me to find out who I was or how I was doing. Heck, she didn’t even ask if it was a good time to talk or not.

Broken Rule #2: Ask, Don’t Sell. Bad enough that she didn’t take an interest in me. She didn’t even bother to tell me about her organization or why I should care about her. She went straight to quoting rates. At this point, she’s not even human. She’s just a talking catalog.

Now, she did ask if I followed U of M football. I told her truthfully that I didn’t. I know it’s rank heresy, but between having two businesses and raising a two-year-old, my wife and I don’t have a lot of time to follow sporting events. I think the last time I actually caught a game was last year when I was visiting my parents. After that half-hearted attempt, she went back to her sales spiel.

Broken Rule #3: Find the Common Ground. Not following football is somewhat unusual in a college town. She had a perfect opening at that point to ask me what I did tend to do on Saturdays in the Autumn. Who knows? We might actually have had something in common.

We’ll take a look at more of this story tomorrow.