Dear Heidi: What do I do? I thought this person wanted to be friends. But they want a new client.
It can be annoying and a bit hurtful when you get the wrong idea about someone. But hold on to your patience and your social codes.
What is your advice on handling a social media message or text message from an
individual you’ve just met virtually through a group; and are excited to eventually
get to know better, only to have them use your meeting as an opportunity to pitch
their MLM sales to you immediately after you accept their friend request?
It's usually upsetting and always awkward when someone has imposed upon you. It is
especially uncomfortable when someone breaks social codes and takes advantage of a
brand new acquaintance to sell you something. It's hurtful; you want to see yourself as
"friend" potential, not "client" potential. So, what to do?
As always, stay true to yourself and your core values, and be the respectful person you
are. Let some time pass before you respond to send a signal that you are not eager to
jump on the deal. I would respond using the same platform as the MLM pitch; DM, text,
If asked to join the MLM as a salesperson or to make a purchase product, say, "Thank you for reaching out with this offer, but I cannot participate. Like all of us, we have our hands full with family and work, and we cannot add any more duties." Or say, "we love the brands we currently use, but thank you. I'm excited to be a part of the group. It's a nice break and a chance to forge some new friendships. Thank you. See you at the next meeting."
Hopefully, this will do the trick, and the person will get the message. You politely turned
them down but did not burn any bridges. Because you are new to the group, you are not privy to any history, but you most likely are not the only person who has heard this pitch. Still, a best practice is to keep this to yourself and hope it's a one-off. If this individual approaches you again, stay polite and say, "Thank you for understanding that I am not interested, but I wish you all the best with your business."
I'm sorry this happened, especially immediately after joining the group. You sound
excited, so try to look past this breach, and enjoy the journey of making new friends.
This person may turn out to be overzealous and have had a momentary lapse in good taste
and judgment, but could become one of your favorites. Alternatively, if this individual
lacks good social graces, keep them at arm's length, but enjoy the others in the group.
Steering clear is much easier to do via Zoom, but it's possible to do in person too.
Stick to your social codes, stay respectful, and kind, and you will get through this well.
Remember you're not alone in this scenario. I've been invited into new neighbors or new friends' living rooms, only to find myself staring at a coffee table full of skincare or household cleaning products. It's uncomfortable, but you learn something from every life lesson, and sometimes it results in good skin and a clean house.