Have you ever wanted something, but weren’t been sure about how exactly to get it? Sure you have, everyone has, whether it was getting to the cookie jar when you were a little kid or starting that new business. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is ask. Ask for help, guidance, support, funding — whatever it is you want, don’t be afraid to ask.
It all comes down to how you ask for whatever it is that you want. In December of 2015 I found out that billionaire serial entrepreneur Nik Halik was hosting an exclusive mastermind session on the remote island of Vanuatu. I wanted to be a part of that experience, so I did the most logical thing — I asked. However, there’s a bit more to it than just asking; many times you can’t just ask outright for what you want, particularly if it’s going to require some amount of effort from the party you’re asking. That will be seen as off-putting at best and rude at worst.
So maybe you know what you want, and you’re going to have to ask for something in order to get it, whether it’s the support of your friends, funding from investors, or an invitation to a party. This article will dish the secrets of how you can ask in a way that’s most likely to open that door for you — and maybe even a few others you didn’t realize were there!
Here are 5 tips that will help you when reaching out:
1. Make your message or story stick out
If you’re going to be asking for something, you need to have your story down. You need to be able to present who you are, what you want, and why you’re asking that specific person or organization for it. This is adaptable depending on who you’re asking and what you’re asking them for, of course.
If all you want is support from your friends and family for that new diet or exercise regime, then you won’t need to be so formal. However, if you’re launching that new business and need funding, your potential investors are going to want to know about the person behind the ask.
“Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth- that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible.” – Max Weber
2. Find a way to bring value whenever possible
Everything in life is give and take. If you’re asking someone to give something to you, you should be able to tell that person why it benefits them as well. Take a job application for example – if you want to get your dream job, you’re going to have to apply, which is just a very formal way of asking for it.
From your resume to your interview, you’re going to have to make it clear that hiring you isn’t just about your dreams and what you want, but that you will bring value to the organization in a manner that it would otherwise lack. Of course sometimes what you’re asking for really will just be a one-way transaction, but you may find surprising ways of making someone’s generosity pay off for them!
3. Know who you’re contacting
When you are reaching out to people, especially through an avenue such as email, you need to be able to customize your message. Make sure it fits with their values and beliefs. This means doing your homework and getting to know the person you are reaching out to.
Make sure your message is tailored, specifically to them. If they think you are sending the same type of message to every person you come in contact with, they likely won’t give you the time of day.
“I believe that we were meant to live as social creatures, to reach out and bless each other’s lives.” – Richard Paul Evans
4. Be authentic
If you are not authentic, people will see right through you. You need to be honest and authentic. People who are in power to open doors and give favors have likely seen it all before. They know the difference between someone who is authentic and someone who is being fake to get ahead.
This is just another part of crafting your story; you need to come off as sincere. Just be yourself and be forthcoming about what you want. Dishonesty can really only have negative repercussions here, because even if you do get what you want, there’s always the chance that it could come back to bite you in the future, which is simply not worth the risk.
5. Have a call to action
This is just a fancy way of dressing up your “ask.” This is a polite nudge for the party you’re addressing to grant you what you want. In your cover letter for a job, you would end by saying that you look forward to hearing from the hiring manager. That’s a clear sign that you’re asking for a response.
The key with a call to action is that it has to just be a nudge, you can’t say “so please give me X.” Unless you’re dealing with close friends or family, that’s the quickest way to get shut down. Rather, you politely suggest the outcome you would like — “I look forward to speaking with you about how I might be able to accompany you on your trip” — and let the ball rest thoroughly in their court.
“Do not fear mistakes.You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” – Benjamin Franklin
These guidelines can be applied to any sort of request, whether it’s for an invitation to an exclusive mastermind, funding for your next big project, or simply support on a commitment like exercising or eating healthy. Many people are afraid to ask because of the possibility of rejection, but the doors you can open just by asking for something might also surprise you.