Remember that old adage? It’s not what you know, but who you know? Keep it in mind for those times when you need a hand! You know, when you want to expand your business, when you need an ‘in’ at that company, when you are looking for help. Turn to the people who know, like and trust you (and most importantly, want to see you succeed)!
Try this exercise the next time you need help.
Make a list of what you need to make happen – connect with key contacts, find new strategic partners, hire a new right hand – and then brainstorm who you know who can help! Reach out to them via email or by telephone and set up a time to chat…in person if possible! Then ask (for tips on how to ask for help, read Asking is Free).
Okay – it’s not that simple. Your network will get a little annoyed with you if the only reason you ever reach out to them is when you need something (and yes, it is obvious). Networking is about establishing reciprocal relationships. Win-win. You help them, they help you.
The Golden Rules of Reaching Out to Your Network for Help
#1: Give Before You Get – Consider your personal network your greatest asset. Give back to that asset by giving of your time, your help and your connections, and trust that it will all come back to you.
#2: Be Direct and Ask – Be direct. Ask your contacts how you can help them and be prepared to give a specific answer when asked the same question. (And please remember to ask first).
#3: Stay Connected – Make time to maintain those relationships you worked so hard to establish in the first place. Attend regular networking meetings, connect via social media, send out regular personal emails or even better, pick up the telephone.
#4: Respect the Boundaries – Don’t cross that invisible line between networking and nuisance. Base the ask on the relationship. That means don’t hit up your new follow for a retweet of your latest blog post or ask the newest member of your networking group for an introduction to their best client.
#5: Be Honest – When appropriate (see above), take the honest approach and tell them that you are seeking their help. It’s to tell them what you hope to gain in advance so if they feel you are crossing any boundaries, they can reframe the discussion.