Stop Begging for Favors

Photo cred: GreyBlueSkies

If you find yourself constantly asking for favors in business, you’re doing something wrong.

This spark came  when I was watching Alpha Dog the other day.  Yes, my inspiration for posts come from some really weird places…

The one guy was pitching a drug deal to Emile Hirsch’s character.  When Emile started questioning him, the guy said “I’m not looking for any favors… if it makes sense, then do it.  If not, fuck it.”

Whether you’re pitching bloggers, seeking partnerships, looking for funding or seeking any other kind of business arrangement, you can’t go into it with the mentality that you need them, and that they’d be doing you a favor by helping you.

I see it all the time.  I’ve even done it myself.  You reach out to others to see if they’ll be kind enough to promote your blog post, or your projects.  You want them to help you.  You need them to help you.  How else can you succeed?  This causes a few problems:

  • You come across as needy. It makes you look bad and degrades your image as a confident professional.
  • You become reliant on others. Always relying on others to help you succeed, you’ll quickly fail as soon as that option is no longer there.
  • You use up your resources.  People aren’t going to help you all the time.  You cash in on a favor, and you may not get many more.  In fact…
  • You’re indebted. Asking everyone else for help means that you would now be expected to help them whenever they call.

Instead of looking for favors, look for opportunities to help them.  If you can propose a deal that benefits both parties, you’re not doing each other favors, you’re doing business.

When reaching out to bloggers, don’t ask them to review your website.  Explain to them exactly why your website will be valuable to their readers, how else you can provide value to them and explain what you would expect in return.

When you’re creating partnerships, make sure you’re identifying value for both parties.  They need you just as much as you need them.

I’m not saying you should never turn to others for help.  It’s important to know when you can use someone else’s help and be big enough to ask for it.  Business can be personal, but it’s still business.  It’s exchanging value for value.

Are you focused on asking for favors or doing business?

4 thoughts on “Stop Begging for Favors

  1. Business people aren’t generally naive – They realize that when you reach out to them, you think that you can get some value. I like the way you lay it out here. Let the other side know the value they are getting. At times, they are getting a free product, but they still need to know why their audience will care about that product.

    If there is no tangible value, you better be sure to let the other side know exactly why they would consider doing business with you. It is helpful if part of the reason is that they like you, but it can’t be the only reason you’ve reached out.

    I suggest walking into a pitch with the idea that you are going to help the other person. That’s just good sales, but forget what you are trying to get out of the arrangement – that connection is generally pretty obvious.

    1. Exactly. Not to say that business people won’t help you if you ask for it. On occasion, they will. But instead of relying on that, think about what you can bring to the table. It will greatly increase your chances of being helped.

  2. Great advice, David. I think the idea of demonstrating your value first will work better in the long run, as eventually people will start coming to you for the value.

    Plus anytime you can show somebody what you can do for them (rather than vice versa), the more chance of getting their attention.

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