I do this exercise pretty often called “What Went Well”. Basically you think of three things that went well, write how they went well, and then ask yourself why they happened.
Having done this hundreds of times I’ve seen a clear pattern of “why”. They are”
- I got lucky.
- I sat down and did the work I needed to do.
- I reached out to someone and asked for something.
Despite #3 happening so frequently, I find that I don’t reach out very consciously and definitely not enough. It just sort of happens most times.
But what if I made a plan to more consciously look at what I needed and reached out?
I had a few different writing sessions last week and came up with some ideas around reaching out. Mind you, this is not a full plan yet but some ideas to help focus my efforts a little more.
What do I need?
Things fall into four categories generally: resources (money, assets, social capital), knowledge (know-how and experience), effort (action), and encouragement (energy and enthusiasm). You can probably think of people that fall into each of these categories, or a mix of categories.
Who can help?
If I’m going to reach out, each reachout must be to a specific person, not as social media post. They say if you’re having a heart attack in a crowd, don’t say “someone call an ambulance”. Instead choose one person, point to them and say “You. Call an ambulance.” If you ask someone a question it’s hard for them to ignore you. If you ask a crowd a question it’s hard for them to respond to you.
Make sure you pre-qualify the person you are asking – can they even provide what you want? Is there someone better to ask? Don’t just go for Clara because she knows a little about such-and-such and you happen to be friends. Think deeper.
What am I offering? How am I helping them?
When you Reachout, be sure to consider what you are giving them. The less beggy you are the more likely you will get what you want. What do you have to offer? It doesn’t have to be money or something tangible. For example, many people like to help because they want to know they make a difference – so make it clear that you will deliver a difference to them. Show them you are worth helping because what you are doing is important to the world. Make a list of potential things they might want. Ask them what they want.
Everyone has connections to other people. If it’s clear you won’t get what you need with one person, ask them for referrals to other people that might help. Sometimes the ask IS a referral. Maybe ask you friend Clara who knows a little about such-and-such who she might know that knows a lot.
The Reach Out Table
I’ve begun making a table to guide me into asking for what I need:
I use the DISC model a lot when I am doing sales or otherwise trying to influence people. It’s a model. It’s not reality. And no one fits snuggly into just one category, but I find extremely helpful.
I thought the 4 Elements was an interesting way to think about the things you can ask for, so I put that in there as well.
There’s more to be added and built out, but I thought this was worth sharing.