However, you should know what you want before you make the ask. As you think about what you need to grow your business, your career or perhaps your personal network you need to know … what do you really need? This is not meant to sound crass and materialistic. It is intended to be literal and specific so that you can make a realistic request.
Make the Ask
Whether you are looking for money to grow your business or just need help (literally) growing your business by the fruits of someone’s labor or whether you just need to connect with someone that is “outside” your network. The idea here is to help you Stand Out in Your Career.
By making the ask specific you will be able to make the most of your time. By making the most of your time you will, by default, be making the most of the persons time from which you are seeking help.
As I wrote about in this post – Make the Ask … Everyone Wins. Letting people know what you want, need and yes … what you are willing to give in return, is important.
Three Engines of Growth
I ran into a friend at a Microsoft reunion recently and we got to talking about what’s going on in our respective worlds. He’s mostly focused on investing in companies today. We got to talking about WHAT investing really means. I asked him which engines of growth are the most frequent requests in his world. We had a fun conversation about this and it prompted me to think about it a bit more and ultimately to wrote this post.
To me the three engines of growth are pretty simple:
Money – Cash, credit and access to financial tools and resources.
Labor – Someone needs your muscles (or mind) to do some actual work.
These are simple by design. And, to me, these are the three engines of growth that can be tapped to help you grow your career, grow your business and expand your network. The nice thing here is … you can include business, personal and altruistic goals by utilizing these engines of growth wisely.
When you need something you might be able to simply state that you need someone’s help with access to money, labor or contacts. No one should be embarrassed by this or have second thoughts about making this kind of ask. If you think someone has one, two or three of these that can help you … and you have something you may be able to offer in return … then go ahead and make the ask. Note: Your ability to give something back may not be needed, expected or available right away.
You may not have something tangible that you can offer them today.
However, EVERYONE has something they can offer.
Even if it is a commitment to Pay it Forward.
What can they deliver?
Before reaching out to someone take a moment to consider what the person can deliver. If you are asking someone with a great rolodex for money you might be making the wrong request. In a similar vein you may want to reach out to someone with home building skills for a Habitat for Humanity type project instead of asking them for funds.
Mixing and Matching is encouraged. In the examples above there might be a set of contacts that someone with home building skills has for more people with skills to accomplish other parts of a project. And that person with the great rolodex will likely know others that can help identify people with access to funding options and/or labor skills.
It never hurts to ask. Just take the time upfront to consider what you really need.
Consider The Source
Before making a request … think about what you really need. Think about what you really want.
Whether you need Money, Labor or Access … it’s likely out there. You just need to think about it holistically.