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Raise your hand if you love asking people to help you [when you could just google it.]
Sometimes we forget to make things easier on ourselves by asking for help.
A Pro Asking Tip
People actually like helping you. When you ask someone to help you, you’re actually growing your social capital with that person. Not to get all transactional about it but it was Ben Franklin who documented that asking someone for help was a great way to build relationships.
Franklin wrote about a man in politics who was not particularly fond of him (BF). To win this man over, Franklin asked him to lend him a valuable book from his fancy book collection. (Ben didn’t really even want to read it, he just wanted to win over this person.) So Franklin borrows the book, reads at least part of it and returns it with much gratitude. And the two became friends.
The Mixonian Institute has grown to what it is today because of people helping me. Just this morning I was on the phone with a potential client who was lamenting, “I guess the only way to really build a business is to cold call 150 companies a day.”
WHAT?? Are you kidding me? Put me to work as a Wal-Mart greeter but don’t make me call 150 people every day. Even if they’re my friends. Sign me up for colonoscopy. Make me run a 10K. Blergh.
I never cold call anyone. At least I can’t imagine that. In any case, you can always stalk people on LinkedIn, get to know them and THEN ask for something.
Before you ask…
When I meet someone who can help me, I ask. But first I ask them to have coffee with me so I can get to know them better.
Here’s something for Introverts: this is a great tool for you. Since probably you dislike random small talk about the weather and people’s drama, offering to help and asking for help is a great way to structure the conversation productively. More accomplished in less time.
Of course you ask for things you are willing to give. Ask in the context of a growing relationship, one of give AND take.
20 sample things you can ask for:
1. Do you know anyone I should contact about __________? (Be a connector!)
2. Do you know of any group that might be looking for a speaker? (Be the thought leader!)
3. I understand (or was told) you’re an expert in X, would you mind meeting with me to help me understand this specific aspect of X?
Do NOT ask to pick someone’s brain.
4. Would you mind e-introducing me to Mr. Big?
5. Are you available this day or that day for an informational interview ?
6. We might be able to help each other professionally. Would you like to meet and get to know each other better? .
7. I’m preparing a presentation on X and would like to ask you a few questions about it. Are you available to meet this day or that day?
8. Ms. Grand Pooh Bah recommended that I reach out to you. Might you have a moment to talk by phone today?
9. I am so excited to have found your website and I think we might be able to help each other. Are you available for a Zoom meeting next week? (I literally did this last month and connected with the Top Woman in Tech in South Africa.)
10. Ms. Executive 3 Levels Up From Me, I am such a big fan of yours. I have a project I would like your advice on. May I schedule a meeting with you? (Pro Tip: this is a great way to get focused mentoring without getting into a long-term relationship.)
11. Can you recommend someone to help with X?
12. How about if we review each other’s LinkedIn contacts to see who we can introduce each other to?
13. Want to come with me to this event?
14. How about if I send you three options for working with me? We can discuss them then.
15. Would you take 10% off the price for me?
16. Who should I reach out to to ask about internships at your company?
17. I would like to have a performance review before the annual review. Can we meet next week to do this?
18. Would you be a guest on my podcast?
20. Where did you get those fabulous shoes? or What about that game?
I want to ask YOU something. Please check out my Speak Up! podcast. If you like, please leave a 5* rating.
I dare you. Ask for something today and see what happens.
If you’re interested in becoming a thought leader in your industry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help you.