what you need to give…before you receive

So congratulations- you’ve got a cause you’re passionate about and now your quest is how to get the world onside to make it so…  You most likely have a list of people, acquaintances, vague LinkedIn connections and even organisations and media outlets you’re going to reach out to… 

Does it feel daunting?  Impossible?  Maybe you’re a high octane optimist who doesn’t know what fear means, much less feels like.  Whoever and however you feel about getting the support and engagement of important stakeholders, take a moment and have a look at this practical road map I’ve pulled from the marvelous Liz Strauss’ blog of 4 things to tell before you ask: 

  1. Lead with relationship and context. Let me know who you are. Your ask or offer will get turned down if it’s bigger than the trust in the relationship. Set the context for your conversation by establishing what that relationship is and why that trust exists. How do I know you? Why are you an expert at what you’re about share?

  2. Be clear on what you have. Let me know what your quest is. Tell me what exactly you’re talking about. be able to say it in 25 words or less. If you still need paragraphs of detail, you don’t know what it is.

  3. Connect your me to your quest. Let me know why you’re asking ME and not every turnip that that falls off the truck. Tell me why you’re asking me — why you believe my expertise will be a valued contribution to your success. That will pique my interest in your quest. If you’re asking everyone, you haven’t considered what any one person might offer and that anyone can do what you ask.

  4. Make helping easy, fast, and meaningful. Let me know how little I have to do to help. the facts. Don’t tell me about your disappointments. Think of what I might expect the product to be and then make sure I know if something in that definition is missing.  Anyone with more than one friend has to find a way to decide which friends to help and when.  When you move beyond close connections, it sure helps if the “friends” asking lets us know that they’ve thought enough about their quest to start with trust.

Asking isn’t easy.  Saying “no,” isn’t either.  But time is the only resource no one has enough of.  Take the time to understand and prepare for these four points and you’ll save time, energy and your credibility because you’ll contacting the right people with the information that they need to answer faster with a “yes.”


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