We all know that one person who seems to get everything! Sure, they can be sweet and charming, but how are they able to convince others to do whatever they want? More importantly, how can you get others to help you without coming off salesy or having to beg others for help?
Knowing how to convince others to do what you need, without turning them off or leaving a bad taste in their mouth is an essential life skill. When it comes to getting what you want, you need to know what you need, who can supply it and how to make your ask. Before you can even make an ask, it’s important to first build a genuine and meaningful relationship with the person.
The secret, most people tend to forget when it comes to building a strong relationship, is to give first. Whether it’s giving your time by spending quality time with the person, support their hopes and dreams, or being able to help them in a time of need, giving first and supporting this person makes it less of a transaction and more of a growing partnership. This allows both sides to benefit and foster a win-win for the long run.
I’m going to share with you my top tips when I launched my business, which helped me build thriving communities. This technique came especially handy when it came to developing key relationships with business and community leaders. It even helped us receive funding for our work and launch multiple initiatives that affected hundreds of people.
Know what you’re trying to achieve
Taking the time to know what you want is the first step to getting it. Whether you’re trying to build your career, working to grow in a business or organization, or dreaming about running their own empire someday, knowing what you want allows you to build a pathway towards achieving your goals. It also helps you avoid acting aimlessly and recklessly. Knowing what one wants may come easier to some than others. That said, it’s essential to sit with yourself and identify what large goals you wish to accomplish.
Make a clear decision on what you wish to achieve. This establishes a sense of purpose and allows you to break down exactly what you need to accomplish to reach your goals.
Figure out what you need
Once you’ve identified what you want, you can begin to break down what you need to achieve your goals, including short-term, long-term, and your Definite Chief Aim. This is the best time to do your research! Begin by looking up if/who has done it before or something similar to it. See what worked, didn’t work, and what you can learn from the people who’ve done it before you.
Reading interviews, case studies, biographies, and research allows you to learn best practices to avoid common mistakes and wasting effort on what others have already tried. Conduct some research for yourself! Reach out to those who are working on similar goals, work in your industry or on congruent projects. This will all help you prepare an educated approach to achieving your goals and avoid wasting precious time.
Keep an opportunities list
Knowing what you want and need allows you to recognize what kind of opportunities and key personnel you need to attract. Whether it’s a mentor to guide you through your professional career, funding to support your product, or even clients for your business, breaking down the opportunities you need will greatly increase your chances of acquiring them.
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser, USAC National Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner
A good exercise is to make a list of what kind of opportunities you will need in order to bring you closer to your goals and/or make it easier to get there.
- what your goals are
- what you would need to achieve your goals
- who can help you
- what kind of partnerships you would like to establish
- what milestones you will need to reach
- how you will measure success, and so on
Keeping your list in the back of your mind helps you to quickly recognize the types of opportunities you need, take advantage of the right opportunity, at the right time, and allows you to make the most out of each opportunity.
Identify and inquire about the opportunities you need
Now that you know what you want and who can help you, it’s time to acquire the right kind of opportunities you need and someone who can help you. Now that you know what you need, reflect on your network and resources at your disposal and opportunities you may be underutilizing,
Here are a few examples of what you can acquire to bring you closer to your goals:
- Introductions to potential business partners, collaborators, or investors/sponsors, and others working on a similar mission or within the same industry
- Connection to clients/members, business executives, influencers, or community leaders in the space you’re trying to get into
- Resources such as business/industry expertise, supplies, tools, scholarships/grants, programs, and so on
- Opportunities include sharing an office/store/room before you can afford your own, collaborating with others on projects, asking for tickets to a workshop/conference on a topic you’re looking to learn more about
Opportunities come in all shapes, sizes, and disguises. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a casual coffee meeting or a social media conversation can evolve to a game-changing connection. This is only if you know how to identify opportunities and directing the conversation to a more favorable outcome.
This is where knowing what kind of opportunities you need can make a huge difference. Being able to pick up on these serendipitous moments and making the most out of them can bring you that much closer to your goal.
Build meaningful relationships and give first
Many tend to underestimate how much showing genuine interest, respect and support can mean to others around them. Developing a strong relationship is all about supporting the other person and doing what you can to help them. Be mindful and practice active listening during your conversations. Ask meaningful questions to get to know them – who they are, what are the goals they’re working on and how are they achieving it.
When it comes to building meaningful relationships, asking how you can help and offering your assistance furthers your relationship as others will feel supported, empowered, and encouraged to pursue their goals. Offering to help with something they’re working on, oftentimes means a lot more than you may realize. Simple acts such as tapping into your network for someone/something they’re looking for or even keeping them in mind for a particular opportunity they need will be highly appreciated.
You do not have to offer large gifts or grand gestures (as this only needs to a shallow, transactional relationship. Once you stop supplying what they need/want, your relationship no longer has value.) Sometimes the best things you can give are your time, attention, and generosity in supporting others to achieve their goals. Of course, you should not offer your help only to expect something in return, but if you care for and believe in the person you’re building a relationship with, your relationship will naturally evolve to benefit both parties.
Don’t be surprised at first when the other person is not sure what you can do to support them. Asking what you can do to help is often a rare practice and many are not used to this type of generosity. When they are not sure how you can help, reassure them that your offer is open and going. If and when they think of something you can do, you are always willing to help. If they do know what they want/need, before you make any promises, take some time to think about the ask and evaluate if it is something within your power. You never want to overpromise and under deliver as this will destroy relationships quickly and more importantly, silently.
Making the ask
Once you’ve asked them what you can do to support their goals, naturally, they will want to return the favor (Law of Reciprocity). This is when you can share more about what you’re trying to do and what you need. If you’ve identified a specific ask to make, ask if they would be open to helping you with what you’re trying to do.
Here are a few tips on how to make the ask:
- Tie in a reference from their work, background, or any bits from the conversation to demonstrate a connection they can make for you
- Help clarify any confusion or miscommunication without coming off defensive or frustrated if they don’t know how to help
- If they’re in a good position to help you, explain why you think they may be the best fit to help you with your goal and share a few ways you think they can help
- If they are not the ideal person, list a few opportunities you are looking for, then leave it open
- Asking them to keep you in mind whenever they come across any opportunity you’re looking for helps relieve the pressure of them offering something they’re not comfortable with. Furthermore, this helps to build a mental connection, for future references.
Once you’ve made your ask, be patient and respectful with however they choose to respond. You can tell pretty quickly at this point if there is enough synergy for them to help you or if you should move onto a different conversation topic.
If they agreed to help you, make it as easy as possible for them to follow through! Offer a few ways they can help and let them choose what makes the most sense for them. It is also helpful to do any heavy lifting, whether it’s drafting emails for introductions, sending them more information to make any recommendations, and so on. Doing your best to make it as little work possible will increase your chances tremendously of them delivering what you need.
If they politely decline to help, whether it’s making the introduction you need, getting involved in your cause, or even entertaining the conversation further, don’t take it personally. If that is the case, at least you’re aware of a potential connection (which you can respectfully pursue on your own). Plus, you had a chance to practice asking for what you want and exercise your personal development muscles so that’s a huge win!
Now if you don’t have a direct ask or know how this person can help, ask open questions. Asking questions, such as “what do you think about what I’m trying to do?”, “do you know anyone that is doing something similar?”, or “do you think what I shared with you will help me reach what I’m trying to do?”, allows for a better insight into whether or not your delivery and ask makes sense, as well as give others an opportunity to share their thoughts. Be prepared to take whatever feedback. Depending on the feedback you receive, take it with a grain of salt and don’t let it discourage you.
Whether they were willing to help you with what you need or politely decline to help, thank them anyway! Regardless of how the conversation ends, it’s polite to send a followup email to thank them for their time and consideration. If they did offer to help, include in your followup next steps and any agreed to-dos. Make sure if you offered to help them with anything that you follow through as well! Nothing is worse than doing something for someone else only to have them blow you off.
If they are slow to deliver what you agreed upon, it’s ok to respectfully follow up after a reasonable amount of time. Understand that they are busy too and your ask may not be on top of their priority list. If they did not offer to help, thank them anyway and let them know that it does not change your relationship as you are still willing to help them. You never know! Maybe they’ll be able to help you in the future. Maybe not. Either way, it’s important to not burn bridges when it’s not necessary.
Developing a good relationship with others and sharing what kind of opportunities you’re looking for will increase your chances. They can keep an eye for opportunities that you might be interested in and champion your cause.
So the next time you’re having a coffee meeting with someone new or catching up with an old friend, pay close attention. Opportunities are quick to come by and also quick to go! You never know if your conversation partner will mention someone or something that could bring you closer to your goals. If they happen to mention something that aligns to what you’re trying to do, ask if they can share more. Casually mention what you’re working on and get their thoughts!
Naturally with most techniques, asking for what you want takes a bit of practice. When practicing this technique, it’s normal if you’re not receiving the immediate results you’re hoping for. Practicing your ask will increase your problem-solving skills (by identifying potential solutions to your problems and finding how to get what you need), relationship-building skills, and focus on achieving your goals.
Exercising your personal growth muscles is never a bad thing. Now that you know how to ask for what you want, what would you ask for? Share your answers in our comment section!
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals. You can reach Melissa by sending her an email at Contributor@strivewithme.com or joining our Facebook Group. You can read more about what Melissa is striving for here and more of her articles here.