I get emailed and Facebook messaged a lot from people asking for things. Whether it’s advice on their project, posting a track to my music blog or launching their e-commerce business… there’s a lot of questions. I love responding and get back to most, but I have to wonder what most of these people are thinking.
Why would someone take the time out of their day to get back to them? What’s in it for them?
It’s human nature to only do things that benefit us. Even when we’re doing things for other people like volunteering, the reason driving the action is for us to feel good about it. There are many different motivations for taking action, but generally all of them involve some sort of benefit or gain.
So when someone asks me something, I usually respond because I want to be a good person. I want to help out. Responding satisfies my need to help.
Sometimes though, I’m busy and the message gets lost. I can’t imagine what the inboxes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss or even Pat Flynn look like. The picture I used of Andrew Warner from Mixergy says it all.
For some reason we think that people are required to answer our questions, to help out or respond. This isn’t school. People aren’t required to do anything.
How to approach influencers
So when you want to connect with someone to gain insight, experience or whatever it might be it has to be done with a give first, receive second approach. You have to offer something of value in order to receive it back, just like a trade or barter.
Offer something of value and then later ask for something. It’s that simple.
By offering something initially you’re “breaking the ice” and the message is a much less of chance of being ignored. How can I ignore the sender when they’re helping me out with one of my problems?
After delivering on your promise or offer, then go back later and see if they’re willing to help you with your situation. They’ll be more inclined to do so and most of the time will help in whatever way that they can. Whenever we receive something for free, we’re automatically wired to want to give something back.
It’s no secret why those condo sales tours always come with free show tickets, breakfast and other bonuses. Once they give you something, you’re more inclined to listen to their proposition. Not to mention the free tickets motivate you to listen to the offer that you’d otherwise ignore.
Again… this is because we’re all motivated by self interest. Use this to your advantage.
Applying this to job interviews
The last time that I interviewed for a job, I used this approach and got hired when I didn’t have the experience or qualifications required. I emailed the interviewee to find out more about the position and got them to reveal why they’re looking to hire someone in this role and the projects they would be handling.
In the interview I flipped the generic “tell me how you did this in your last job” question into how I would use my skill set to accomplish what they were looking for. I pulled out a printed paper with a proposal on things that I could immediately implement and begin working into the businesses daily activities.
So before I even asked for the job (figuratively), I was giving them something. If you hire me… you get this.
By preparing an agenda tailored to solve the businesses problems, I was creating visualization for the interviewees. They could see me in the position and what I would do rather than trying to imagine how I would fit in based off of my previous experiences.
Whatever it is that you’re trying to do, offer value before asking for it. Your response rate will improve and you’ll get closer to what you’re looking for.
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