Seth Godin has a new post up positing that it doesn’t hurt to ask, unless it does.
I’ve voiced a bit of my opinions of Seth’s business advice previously, so I was a bit surprised when I found myself in agreement with his post.
His post begins:
“It doesn’t hurt to ask”
Actually, it does hurt. It does hurt to ask the wrong way, to ask without preparation, to ask without permission. It hurts because you never get another chance to ask right.
If you run into Elton John at the diner and say, “Hey Elton, will you sing at my daughter’s wedding?” it hurts any chance you have to get on Elton John’s radar. You’ve just trained him to say no…
He concludes with some reasonable recommendations for not having asking hurt you, but he also adds:
Every once in a while, of course, asking out of the blue pays off. So what? That is dwarfed by the extraordinary odds of failing.
This is where I disagree.
I think too often we fear of failing. In fact – there are many successes I’m sure I’ve walked away from simply because I was afraid or unwilling to ask. Conversely a small start up I’ve helped is led by someone always willing to ask for help and who is candid about what he can and cannot give in return. I’m in awe at the opportunities presented to him simply because he had the courage to ask.
So my thoughts… ask away. Seth’s recommendations: Do your homework, build connections definitely apply, I think there is a social EQ you need when you ask away. You need to be respectful of other people’s time and tuned in to when someone is uncomfortable with your request (though discomfort can often lead to opportunity).
And while Seth recommends making a reasonable request, I disagree. I say you ask for what you need. Couple that with your homework, your connections, and preparation, you may get a no but more than likely you’ll at least get insight in return.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I’d rather have the problem that I’m willing to ask for too much, than have the problem that I ask for too little.