Growing a business is not a one person job. One needs a good and dedicated team as well as a family of well wishers who will support during the rough times and help accelerate during the good ones. And there will be times when one will have to stretch out a hand to ask for help or a favour in this journey.
But there are many amongst us who are not comfortable to stretch out that hand and ask, either because we are not confident of getting a yes and we don’t want to get rejected, or maybe because we feel that we don’t deserve that help; and this can be extremely detrimental to the interests of the business. At the other end of the spectrum are those who have no qualms about asking for something from any and everyone they meet, but they end up putting people in awkward situations.
So what is to be done? When and how should you ask for a favour in business?
The second category of people are on the right path. It is always better to ask, rather than not; and one might be surprised at how willing people are to help out, not the least because it gives them pleasure to be able to help out someone in need. But – and this is the important part – one has to be careful about how and when you ask for something if you want a positive result.
Dr. Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of BNI, talks about the concept of social capital and how it is important to invest in building this social capital before one can make a withdrawal. His podcast interview on the topic can be heard at http://www.bnipodcast.com/2014/02/26/when-should-you-ask-for-a-favor/
The important thing, according to Dr Misner, is that you need to build a personal relationship with someone before you can start asking for favours. And to build that relationship, you first need to start investing in the relationship. ‘Give without expecting anything in return’ and if and when you do need something, the other person will be eager and primed to help you in whatever way they can.
The second important thing is the way you present your requirement. Be specific about what you want and why you want or need that favour. Request, don’t command people to help. Take into consideration the person’s time and how doing you that favour might impact their schedule or circumstance. And always convey how much you appreciate their help.
Remember, if you have put in the time and effort to build a genuine relationship, your contacts will more likely oblige you than not. And till then, it is best to concentrate on what you might do for them.