Using the ‘pre-ask’ when you want something from someone else
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Every now and again, we all need a little something from someone else to help with our career or business development.
But asking for it's not always easy, especially given the inevitable: that the person we're approaching is ridiculously busy, and being approached by every other woman and her dog also.
Asking for such help requires a little groundwork first. Something that may verge, only slightly, on the subtle side of business stalking. A little something I like to call the "pre-ask".
What, you ask?
Apparently, I'm not alone on the "pre-ask" method. Former US Cosmopolitan editor in chief Kate White lists it as one of her neat little tricks for career-minded women in her new book, Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know.
She told Forbes recently that the "pre-ask" is particularly useful for women in preparing to request the services of a new mentor, and in developing a "board of directors for your personal brand".
The context I like to use the "pre-ask" in is a little broader, it basically covers everything -- from encouraging your partner to pick you up from the office to getting somebody you barely know to put in a good word for you to that potential client.
Purely in a professional sense, the "pre-ask" is about laying the groundwork to build a new relationship that can later lead to putting in a request for assistance on a particular personal or business project.
So how can you effectively pre-ask? Start with these four basics:
Send an article of interest. If you've made some initial contact with the person, and they at least know your name, then drop them a line with a relevant industry article. Keep the accompanying note shore and simple, "just thought you may be interested in xxxx, given your recent talk on xxxx". Hopefully, they respond but if not, don't despair. You haven't really asked anything of them, yet.
Start following and interacting with them on social media. This is a great way to enter their space, in their time. The interactions could be industry related -- you could comment on an article they post -- or even personal. Interact when they share a moment, have a laugh, tell them you can relate.
Organise a coffee to discuss an industry matter. Set this up according to their schedule, and within their territory. Make sure the coffee has an agenda that's advice or industry based, and be sure to email the agenda through upon making the request so it doesn't seem like a complete waste of time. You're not up to the big ask just yet, so the agenda needs to offer something productive for both sides of the conversation. For example, "I'd like to ask you advice on xxxx bit also share my idea for xxxx that I think might be relevant to your business".
Attend an industry or seminar where you know they'll be talking. Sounds straight forward enough but this one requires a little extra work. Drop the person an email or tweet prior to the event, "heard you're speaking at xxxx, I look forward to saying hello". Or drop their name into a social media message. "Happy to be hearing from @xxxx on xxxx over breakfast this morning." The goal here is to have the speaker recognise your name before your short introduction on the day. Like anyone else, he or she will be flattered by the mention.
They're just a few examples of the "pre-ask". Do you have any of your own? Share them below.