The Importance of Asking for Favors
I’m bad at asking for favors.
Always have been. I tend to hedge and hold off until the last minute even on things I know I can’t do alone. But while there’s a nice self-sufficient sort of ethos in there somewhere, it turns out not to be the best business strategy.
This one’s counter-intuitive for people raised to be politely self-effacing. No one likes a demanding friend, or client, or partner, or whatever, right?
Mostly right. Turns out “demanding” is bad, but occasionally needy is a good thing. I accidentally offended a previous employer by not asking him to go out of his way and call in a recommendation when I applied for a new job; apparently he felt that he had some pull there and could have been useful to me. Which is probably true, but not the sort of thing I feel comfortable asking for. My mistake.
This is one of those “makes sense when you think about it” lessons that you’ll eventually hit in any business. I mean, you like doing people favors, right? Feels nice. The warm fuzzy of selfless generosity, or alternatively the adrenaline rush of power over someone else — depends on how cynically you want to interpret generosity. (I assume most of you fall on the in-favor side, since I’ve already offended any Ayn Rand fans away long ago.)
So it’s maybe time to stop being shy with your vast social network of bloggers, tweeters, friends-of-friends, etc. Rather than putting out a general call for help (beta-reading a manuscript, say, or putting you in touch with a good agent), why not approach someone specifically? Send a personalized e-mail to someone who has the skill/contacts you need. Be polite and tell them how much you admire their aforementioned skill/contact.
Not only are you likely to get the help you need, you’ll actually be strengthening your relationship with that person.
And yes, you can ask me if you like. Though I can’t imagine what for. Need a good dick joke? This post was getting too serious anyway; what am I, some kind of self-help site?