Networking Tip: how to start a request for help on the phone?

When networking it is not only important to give, but also to ask questions and ask for help to other people. Why? Because you give the other person the opportunity to build a relationship with you!

I already discussed parts of this in previous posts:
How do you feel making a request
Ask
Ask for what you want, it won’t happen automatically

Keith Ferrazzi also posted in his blog about this this week: Do a friend a favor and ask for help.

However, most people don’t know how to start. In order to help them I post this small part out of my network book Let’s Connect.

“Before asking a question it is always good to check if the person has time for you. Contrary to what most people belief, it is OK to directly say what you are calling for. I used to say “Am I disturbing you?”, which already indicated that I didn’t find my question important enough or valued the other person’s time more important than mine. But with my weak opener I already opened the gate to “failure”.

In her book “Selling with Integrity”, Sharon Drew Morgen gives examples of how to avoid this. She advices sales people to use these words: “This is Sharon Drew Morgen speaking. This is a sales call. Is this a good time for you to talk?” When I first read this, I couldn’t believe this would work, but when I
tried it myself, I couldn’t believe the results. People were surprised by my honesty and no one ever told me that he/she was not interested. If it was not a good time for them, they gave me another time to call them back.

“But I’m not a sales person” you probably think. Then this also applies to you. I use variants of this sentence in all my communication, personal or professional. “Hi mom, I’m just calling to say hello. Is it a good time for you to talk?” or “Hi business partner X, I’m calling about the contract. Is this a good time for you to discuss this?” By using this phrase you show that you are confident about what you want and respect other people’s time. Just try it!”

To your success !

Jan

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4 Responses to Networking Tip: how to start a request for help on the phone?

  1. Great article, Jan. Asking for help is such a HUGE problem, that I have written a book entitled Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word: Why Doing It All Is Doing You In published by McGraw Hill.

    In it I’ve identified a never before discussed self-defeating behavior I call The Self-Sufficiency Syndrome and the person a Self-Sufficient.

    If you’d be willing to review it – I’d be happy to send along a copy. Just need your address.
    Thanks again for the sage words.
    Peggy Collins
    http://www.helpisnotafourletterword.com

  2. Great point Jan.

    I do something similar but make it sound more like I am in a position of power compared to a position of weakness. I learned this from one of my mentors.

    Saying the words, “Is this a good time?” the other person is more likely to say “No” rather than “Yes” just to get you off the phone or if they are busy…because when saying “Is this a good time,” implies that you need to ask for their permission to speak with them. So knowing this psychological trigger I instead say.

    Hi Jan, this is Scott Bradley from “such and such” did I catch you at a bad time?

    When saying the words…”Did I catch you at a bad time,” it puts your more in the position of power rather than having to ask them if it is alright with them for you to speak with them.

    By saying “Did I catch you at a bad time” psychologically and subtly lets the other person know without telling them that you have something important to say to them.

    Thoughts?

  3. Hi Peggy,

    I will send you an e-mail.

    Hi Scott,

    thanks for the comments.

    One thing I didn’t explain in my post is that when you ask someone “Is this a good moment?” they can indeed see “no”.
    If they do, then ask: when is a good moment to call. You always get an answer ànd you are sure they make time for you.

    If you use the “did I catch you at a bad time?” you focus on something negative. I like to have the people I’m in contact with as many as positive words and positive connotations with our company or me personally.
    And it’s as easy for them to say “yes” to this question.

    But we are now focusing on details.

    For me what’s the most important is that you are respectful of the other person’s time, have a positive attitude and ask question with a “positive outcome attitude” coming from a self-confident mindset instead of downplaying yourself and begging for help.

    To make a long reply short: I think we are on the same wavelength 🙂

    Have a great networking day !

    Jan

  4. Hi Jan,

    I picked up your book Let’s Connect! and I can really recommend it to everybody seriously wanting to network. In fact I can recommend it to nearly everybody because it doesn’t only tell you how to network, but also how to have high integrity and use the power of positive thinking.

    You also just gained yourself a new subscriber to your blog.

    Thank you for enriching my life.

    Friendly greetings,

    Nick Belhomme
    PHP5 Zend Certified Engineer
    http://www.zend.com/zce.php?c=ZEND007033&r=224024709
    ————————————————————–
    profile: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/nickbelhomme
    blog: http://blog.nickbelhomme.com
    ————————————————————–

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