You can get a lot done simply by asking for help. And as a new professional, going out there and getting direct help in finding and landing your next internship or job can be the biggest difference in you starting your career off right and sitting at home on your couch.
But not all help is asked for equally, and odds of your request being granted hinges on the quality of how you ask for it.
Here are 4 ways you can master the Art of Asking for a Favor:
Ask The Right People
While many people want to help, not all of them are equally qualified. Being able to accurately identify those select few is key to ensuring help comes your way. Approach people whom you have a genuine connection with and are in some way invested in your success; asking for a favor from a casual connection may come across as entitled or rude and will definitely not be completed.
Ensure Your Favor is “Turn Key”
When you need something done, and need something done fast, do as much of the work as possible; leaving very little for that other person to actually do. Unlike your parents or professors, these people willing to help you out are doing so out of choice, not obligation. Avoid putting all of the work on them in order to help you out.
The most egregious examples of this was an email I received a few months ago, which read simply: “I am looking for hardware internships over the summer. Startups are OK too.
Do you think you could help me out?”
The simple answer to this question is “Yes I think I can help you out.” But the most important part of the request, the HOW part, is still a mystery. And without communicating clearly HOW someone can help you out, your favor may very well fall to the bottom of the priority pile, or be ignored altogether.
So be very, VERY clear on the HOW of the favor you are asking. In marketing, they refer to this as the “Call to Action”. And make sure you do exactly that, call the person you are asking to act.
“I have attached my resume, could you send it over to your HR department for consideration for the Coordinator Position? It’s job #987235.”
“I saw you were connected to Bob Smith, VP of Development at the Acme Corp. Would you be able to introduce us over email? Looking to possibly apply to his company in an accounting position and wanted to know more about the job and the company itself.”
Being clear with your favor and doing a majority of the legwork doesn’t take much time or effort, but it will increase your chances that action will be taken.
(Overly) Express Gratitude
When people go out of their way to help you, make sure you express (heck, overly express) how much you appreciate it. At minimum), send a thank you email. But if you really want to go above and beyond, snail mail a hand written card with a small gift inside. These small tokens of appreciation really go a long way and when you need something again in the future that person knows you will appreciative and will most likely help again.
Make sure to keep that professional in the loop with any updates resulting in the favor they did for you. Keeping them updated makes them continued to be invested in your success and, again, will be willing to do future favors for you.
About the Author:
Kolby Goodman is certified career coach and has run his company The Job Huntr for nearly 5 years. He specializes in helping new professionals create eye catching resumes, craft memorable interview answers, establish a professional LinkedIn profile, and explore new opportunities in their personal and professional networks.