Too Big to Fail

Has your heart been big in business and now you have a “big ask” for yourself? Whether you are launching a new product, expanding a business, looking for capital, or need some extra marketing muscle, perhaps it is time to go ahead and solicit support from those you have shown support to. Here are a few suggestions on how to properly ask for a business favor and avoid awkwardness.

Be Brief: Clear and concise writing is hard work, but completely worth it when it comes to raising your chances of having the recipient read it. You don’t have to tell the whole story, just the best part of the story. There is always going to be chancesfor follow-up information, upon the other person’s request. Write briefly enoughthat people want to respond and worry about spilling all the details later.

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster suggests on his blog, “BothSides of the Table,” to offer an appendix when worried about not offering enough context in a short email. “Ask the question/favor in a very short email, draw bigunderscores under the bottom of the email, and then below that put ‘appendix: more info just in case you wanted more context,’ or something similar. Reading this should not be required to answer the question.”

Write for Forwarding Ease: As a person who places connection above all things, many times when I can’t help a person, and I do know someone who might, I want to forward the request. Therefore, when you write an email asking for something, writeit so that it can be easily for- warded by the recipient. Avoid including per- sonalcommentary that will need to be edited out. The less work the recipient has to do in order to get your request into the right hands, the better. Be sure that whatever you are writing is readable to a third party.

Employ the Double Opt-In Rule: When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction first, and only proceed when permission is granted. I have seen contacts diminished and good will destroyed because people felt their privacy and freedom were invaded because a person was overzealous when asking for help.

I hope this was helpful to you and keep an eye out for more blogs to come next week!