It is so stinking, simple.
Ask for what you want, and there is a chance you will get it.
Don’t ask, and there is 100% chance you won’t.
Yet, many of us, myself included sometimes, feel awkward and unworthy to simply just ask.
We dance around our personal and professional goals hoping they are not too big, or too audacious for others to handle.
We certainly don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable by our ask, right?
This is utter nonsense, but nevertheless has somehow permeated into the water women drink early on in their lives.
I was reminded of this phenomenon while readying myself for my first book launch.
As in, one of the most monumental professional goals I have ever had for myself.
I have always dreamed of being a published author, and now, after many hours (let’s be honest 18 months) of hard work I am ready to share my passion for empowering women and leadership lessons learned through my career. The book is complete, the publication date set and now I am to reach out to other authors and thought-leaders to ask them to review my work and (hopefully) place upon it their stamp of endorsement.
Endorsements are a big deal for a first-time author. Endorsements can open your work up to a whole host of readers who might now take your work seriously because a well-known persona has taken the time to review and found it worthy.
It can also feel terrifying to the author who is doing the asking. Think about it, you have poured your heart, sweat and soul into words you hope will make a difference to those who read them.
What if its crap?
What if they don’t like it?
What if they don’t bother to read it?
The truth is, all of those things might be legit. It may not be crap, but it may not be worthy (yet) of their endorsement. They may not like it for a number of reasons (not their interest, not their style, not a non-fiction book reader). And, very likely, they might not read it and delete without even opening.
But (and this is a big but) the results listed above are the same results I would get if I never sent the book to ask for endorsements at all.
Yep. Zero endorsements.
Cleary, the odds are in my favor if I at least send the darn thing, right?
Here are Five things I learned this week about the power of asking:
- Only ask for what you really, really want. Be really committed to the thing you are asking for. If you are asking someone to go out of their way or go to bat for you, be sure that you are championing the ask with your own blood, sweat and tears. Put forth the ask in a way that the receiver knows you have skin in the game and will make the most of it.
- Own your ask with confidence. Be aware of how you approach the ask. Going in with “you’ve got to do this thing for me” turns people off in a second. On the flip side so does the “hey, sorry to bother you, I am really, really sorry, and I know that you probably don’t want to do this, and I am okay if you don’t want to, but maybe, if you are not busy, you might think about it.” That kind of playing small will only serve to increase the doubt that you are competent to make anything happen if they were to say yes.
- You may have to ask more than once. No response is not a no. This was a hard one for me. I don’t want to be a pest or blow up someone’s email with multiple requests. However, I have learned from my own experiences that emails do get skipped. Or forgotten. Or deleted. I know that when I have failed to respond and someone sends a follow up, I am grateful for the reminder. I now follow the rule of following up about a week after the first ask by offering a gentle reminder. If after the third attempt, there is no response, I send a final follow up saying that I realize they may be a bit too busy at this time and I hope to connect with them in the future. That way, they don’t have to ever feel uncomfortable if we do eventually connect.
- Be a giver. First. This is the most powerful way that I know to eventually receive. I give, as much as I can, freely in helping others. I send a quick link to an article I think they may enjoy, I connect two friends who have mutual interests, I offer to forward a resume for a candidate to a department that is hiring. If you are ever to be an asker, you must be a giver first. Karma has a funny way of rewarding true kindness.
- Ask without expectation. After confidently asking, let go if the answer is no. Hold no grudges. Have no expectations. Thank the person for taking the time to answer you. Just because it is not the right time for them, doesn’t mean it isn’t the right time for you to try a different path. Their no, in no way, needs to deter you or dampen your enthusiasm. Accept it with grace. No is a one word sentence.
Makes sense, right?
I thought so, too.
So I fired up the computer and put forth the ask for endorsements for my book. I thoughtfully compiled a list of authors and though- leaders that I respected, followed, and admired. Even though my inner mean girl critic tried to talk me out of it, I made the ask. I pressed send to six potential endorsers, each one of them a bit farther along on the journey than I am. (A few, quite frankly, way out of my league in the publishing world.)
Five responded!! Seriously!!! And they are knock it out of the park awesome people I admire, but do not know. The best part? THREE out of four said YES!! And one is still reading the book and will send me her answer soon!
Because, like I said in the beginning, it is that stinking simple.
So what are you waiting for, sister?