Sunday, January 14, 2024

Serve Before Asking

By Terry Whalin

Several years ago I was at a conference and in the hallway listening to the director of the conference talking with another leader about a faculty member. This director said, “I encourage you to be cautious about how you use ______. She’s a taker and not a giver.” It was the first time that I’d witnessed this categorization. 

In this article, I want you to consider the importance of your reputation and how you want others to know you. My encouragement is for you to be known as a giver and not a taker. 

In these articles, I’ve encouraged you to get connected to as many people as possible through LinkedIN and through exchanging business cards at conferences or events. It is important to know as many people as possible. As I’ve often said who you know is almost as important as what you know.  On a deeper level, how are you serving or helping those people you meet? 

For example, if you have a new book and are gathering endorsements for this book, how can you serve the person before asking for their help? A simple method is to get their latest book, read it then write a review and promote that review to your social media channels. When you promote the review, use their name, hook it to their Facebook page or their X (Twitter) account or any number of other ways to connect your review and get their attention. 

Then when you reach out for their help, add a sentence in the request about what you've done and even include a link. Don’t overdo it but your message is that I’m a giver and helper to you before I’m asking for your assistance. 

For example, several years ago I read and reviewed a new book from author and journalist Piers Morgan. After my review appeared, I wrote about my review to my social media channels and used his X (Twitter) name in my post. Piers publically thanked me for my review. It’s the only exchange we’ve ever had but it happened through social media. If I can do this sort of reach, you can too. Admittedly it takes some effort on your part but is possible.

In the most basic form to build relationships, you want to give the other person a reason to connect with you instead of making a random request. 

Here’s another important element in the asking process: don’t overask. Narrow your focused ask down to one thing. Recently I received an email request from another writer friend--but it included four or five asks in this email. I read it and almost did not even respond. Yes, I could have ghosted this friend and not responded. That can happen if you ask for too much in a single email. Instead, I did respond but picked the easiest element to do for this friend--and said no to the rest of them. The overask made an impression--but not the one that my friend expected or wanted. 

In what ways can you serve another person before asking for their help? Let me know in the comments below.


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