How to Ask for Favors and Get What You Want


Can’t get it out of my head: I wasn’t planning to write this post, but it kept writing itself in my head. In fact, I was trying to ignore it by searching through my list of potential topics for this week’s post in a folder on my laptop. However, this topic just would not leave me alone, so I finally am just giving in to it. I’m writing this at the insistence of my own mind.

The set up: We live in a world where immediate feedback is possible, needed, and requested…often…maybe too often. It has become so prevalent that it makes me think of the early days of social media. Remember when you would read every person’s post on your feed? It was around 2008, I think, but those days are long gone. Who has the time, not to mention all the comments that you don’t even want to read!

The problem: A request to take a survey or provide some kind of feedback after every purchase you make is commonplace. LinkedIn is filled with people wanting to chat about their services and products to you. “Let’s jump on Zoom and I can tell you all about how I can help you.”  “Can I take you to lunch and pick your brain?” The list goes on.

Whether you’re being asked for a review, your time to answer a survey, your feedback for the admins of a group you participate in or simply whether or not you liked a particular product, it can become a real challenge when you’re busy.

This doesn’t even take into account the expectation forming that all of us can answer any request immediately via one of multiple channels we use. (More on this in an up-coming Savvy Sunday News. Subscribe below. ) All this on top of your actual “to do” list.

All of these requests are from other people who want you to do something for them. But what about you? Sometimes the question becomes, “Are you going to write a review for someone else, or are you going to finish that proposal that will bring in money to handle your living expenses?” Ideally, both, but sometimes you have to go with what you need to do — not what others need from you.

An aside: Personally, I think we’re all training one another to ignore requests. One can only do so much. Even your car emails you now telling you to set up an appointment for an oil change. Your car!

Critical point: Now, consider this because it’s very important. On the flip side, as writers and authors we have requests to make of other people. There are times when we need others to help us, whether it’s writing a review, sharing our social media posts, responding and commenting on blog posts or articles we’ve written, needing testimonials or endorsements, writing a foreword, bringing us to their  community in the form of an online event, etc. We need help from others.

How can you increase your chances of getting others to say yes to your requests, and then actually follow through and take those actions? After all, you know how busy you are. You know how many requests you receive. How do you feel about adding more to someone else’s to do list?

That is the issue.

And it’s a big issue.

Most people want to help others who ask for it, but sometimes it’s just difficult to do that when few, if any, are offering to help you. Requests come from every direction. If there isn’t time to help everyone, who will you help?

Remember this next time you ask someone else to do something for you.

What do we do? Here are a few suggestions which may be of help

Do something for them first. What a novel idea. If you’re going to ask for a book review, why not first do something helpful and thoughtful for the person you are going to ask? Plan ahead and do it long before you are going to ask them for something. Now, I know this may seem contrived, so only do it if you also want to do so. There may be a bit of a fine line here, but we are all more inclined to help those who have first helped us.

Make it something they want. Make sure your gift or thoughtful action is something they would really appreciate. As wonderful as your book is, that gift may not have as big of an impact on them as something they desire for themselves or their business.

Create a list of your ecosystem: Your ecosystem is made up of those people you would love to have on your team. Make a point of staying in touch with them on a regular basis, but at least once a month. Give them something helpful e.g., a link to an article that you know they’d appreciate, a referral, write a review for them without being asked to do it. The list is endless.

Give something away: Give your time. Give your talent. Offer your book, program, service, or whatever for them. You get to figure out what this would be.

Respond to all requests: Go ahead and answer someone’s survey or give them a review, and then ask for something in return. In business, this is perfectly OK.

Explain not right now: Sometimes  you are simply unable to fulfill a request at that time. Maybe you have a presentation coming up, or you’re going to be traveling. It’s OK to tell them that, and offer to do it at a later date.

Pick his or her brain: If your request to someone else is to “pick their brain,” consider what you have to give them in return, or offer to pay for their time. In some cases, you need to pay for it, especially if that expertise is how they earn a living. The exception, of course, is if you’re good friends and in touch on a regular basis.

A few things not to do

Feeling bad? Never ask for a favor when you’re feeling desperate or frustrated. You’re never at your best then, and while others may want to help you, they don’t want to feel guilted into it.

Out of the Blue rarely works: Make sure you aren’t contacting someone completely out of the blue to ask for a favor. It’s important to warm up those relationships first. For example, if you haven’t spoken to someone in two years, the first thing out of your mouth should probably not be a favor.

Dr. Lois Frankle once said to me, “The best time to build a relationship is before you need it.” And she is so right. Build those relationships now before reaching out asking for favors.  (If you need help with a plan for how to increase your chances of getting others to say, “Yes!” then let me know.)

Bottom line

We need one another — quid pro quo, tit for tat, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours — all are alive and well. That doesn’t mean you don’t do things for people without any expectations — just because you want to — it just helps answer the question: how does everyone get what they want in a crazy busy world?

Remember: It is better to give than to receive. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s the Golden Rule all over again.

To your success!


P.S. Summer is here! Well, officially in two weeks, so Cover Me in Sunshine!

P.P.S. Oh, and Prime Video is running a documentary called “Pink All I Know So Far” that is fascinating to watch. It shows how she, her husband, and two kids all go on the road together when she tours. Talk about being busy…






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