Last week, I was visiting a friend and partner in Nebraska. He asked me about the recent issue of US Airways Magazine, which featured a short Q&A about my company and I. You can see it here.
He asked me how I got that opportunity, and got such great PR. I paused for a minute and said: “I asked.”
Now, he and I go back a long way and so he’s familiar with some of the interviews and things I’ve done over the years. He’s had his fair share too. I had never really seen him surprised, but he gave me the “you’re kidding me” look after I answered him with that. But it’s true. I just asked for the opportunity.
It got me thinking two things:
1) How much of the business relationships, press opportunities, career satisfaction, personal satisfaction I’ve had in my life has come from simply asking, or sending an email to someone, or sending a letter to someone?
The answer is: a whole lot. Sometimes, I have gotten opportunities or good fortune by just taking a little initiative and having the nerve to ask. The irony in this day is that it is easier for people to find you, through social media and what not. Yet, it is harder than ever for people to really find out about you. And there’s a big difference. And the difference is so big, that often the ones who ask will stand out.
2) How much have I missed by not just “asking” for help or whatever that something is that I need or want?
The answer is: a whole lot. Especially in business. Sometimes, I haven’t asked to be introduced to someone or haven’t asked for a meeting or haven’t asked for the opportunity to get to know someone a little better or haven’t spoken up when I should have. That is not a winning business strategy.
I believe the reason we don’t ask for stuff more often is the fear of hearing the word “no”. Which no one enjoys hearing; yet most often that is the worst thing that can happen. If you truly do right by people, you will hear “no” a lot less than you think. But that is the key: doing right by people and fostering good relationships. Then, and only then, can you be in a position to “just ask” for whatever it is you need or strive for. You won’t get very far if you’re a jerk that goes around asking for stuff from people without giving something back.
Good, solid, reciprocal relationships + just asking = a winning business strategy.