How to ask for help from your network

I’m rubbish at asking my network for help.

It’s not a great trait for a small business owner who gets all their work though referrals. But the fear of ‘no’ or annoying people ties my stomach in knots.

The crazy thing is, that I am always on the lookout for ways to help people in my network. Last week I connected two neighbours together – one needed garden maintenance, the other runs a garden business.

I build up a lot of goodwill with my network and yet I’m too shy, or scared to ask for help.

So, this week’s blog is a bit of a pep talk for myself. By giving you tips on how to hit up your network for help, I’m giving myself a nudge too.

Be clear about what you want

When I run networking workshops I start with a fun exercise: write down exactly what you need to solve a problem. It could be stuff like:

  • Finding the perfect fit for a job opening in your team
  • Getting an introduction to someone at your dream company
  • Finding new clients for your latest offering

Then, I get everyone to get super specific:

  • What’s your dream candidate like?
  • Who’s the person you want meet or what department are they in?
  • How does your offering solve your client’s pain points?

Why so specific?

Our brains are like detectives hunting for answers. The more precise you are about what you want, the stickier it gets in people’s heads. That way, their brains are on high alert to spot opportunities to lend a hand.

Make it easy it help you

Think about charity websites—click “Donate,” and the monthly donation option is right up front. Charities survive on donations, so they make sure it’s a breeze to chip in regularly.

Kiva, a microfinance organisation takes it one step further and writes a post for you to shout about your donation on social media.

So if you want a colleague to introduce you to someone, make it easy by sending them a draft. They can put their own spin on before sending it off,

When you make things easy for people to do you increase the likelihood they’ll do it. It’s the quick things on the to do list that get done first.

Ask for advice 

If you feel weird directly asking for what you want you could try asking for advice instead.

When I launched presentation skills for managers, I felt awkward pitching it to clients. So I sent them a draft sales pitch and asked their advice on how to make it better. Now the idea’s planted I can bring it up next time we meet.

And the rest 

My knots come from a fear of rejection and I’m not sure they will ever go away.

All I can do is remind myself of this insight from a thinker I coach.  You’re unlikely to get a ‘no’, it’s more likely to be, ‘I can’t help right now.’ And then at least they have the information to help you later.

It’s better to plant the seed and hope it will grow than to never plant it at all.

Have you got something that you need help with? Click reply and let me know what it is. I’ll try to help and if I can’t, I’ll tell you what I’d do if I was in your shoes.

Image Description : A brown rope tied in a knot on a white background.
Image Credit: Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash  

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