As you are meeting new people online, having conversations, posting, building exposure and handling new opportunities daily via social media, you are going to have to draw the line at some point with the back and forth, also known as time wasters.
If someone is continually asking for your advice, free product, tips and so forth, respond no more than three times, spending a maximum of three minutes each time, before you ask for the business. If the contact does not respond or decides to not do business with you, there is no need to offer additional expert advice and/or tips and guidance for free. People will respect you if you respect yourself and the value of your experience and advice by adhering to this 3/3 boundary formula. If you spend even a few hours every week going back and forth with the same person who is never going to do business with you, then you might need to keep your day job.
If your business revenue has either leveled off or declined, it’s worth looking into whether your sales team is asking or has stopped asking for the business. If you find they are doing constant back and forth, crossing their fingers in the hope they will eventually get the buy from a customer, cut to the chase and send an email, note or even make a phone call to ask for the business, mentioning your previous contacts and guidance you have provided.
So why don’t most people ask for what they want? First of all, most people don’t even know what it is they want, which causes a delay in asking before you even start. What exactly do you want from the people you talk to and communicate with, whether it is online or in person? You need to determine what this is. Start by writing out the top three things you would like from the people that you meet. Maybe it is connections, maybe you want to make a certain dollar amount per contact, or you may want to access their knowledge. Get in the habit of asking people who you meet the very first time, “What would you like from me? How can I help?" Ninety-nine percent of the time you’ll find people looking back at you like a deer in headlights. Be patient while people figure out how to respond.
The second reason people don’t ask for what they want is the fear of rejection, or on the other end of that, the fear of success. Just do it. If the person says no, it’s no loss because you weren’t doing anything with them prior to you asking. There is always someone else at the next turn ready and willing to cooperate with you.
To impress upon you the importance and power of asking, here are a few examples of successful asking:
- By asking for emails on your blog posts, you can greatly increase your email database by broadcasting the posts through Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Get booked for paid speaking engagements by looking for opportunities in conversations around your area of expertise and asking to be the speaker.
- Secure a book publishing deal by looking for publishing professionals in your industry on LinkedIn and asking if they would publish your book and telling them why they should in two paragraphs.
- Invite your contacts to sign up for a free monthly teleconference. You might start with only 25 on a call, but if you stay with it, you can have several thousand people on your telecalls before you know it.
- You could secure monthly paid columns on major media and blogs sites.
- Secure new clients weekly by simply letting them know how you can help them (give specific details, not generalizations), and then just ask. Become an asking machine.
This article is an adapted excerpt from The Social Wave: Why Your Business Is Wiping Out With Social Media and How to Fix It (Entrepreneur Press, 2011) by Starr Hall.