26 Apr 4 Basic Rules to Set Yourself Up for a Yes
Are you building a brand, looking for a job or searching for mentorship? It only takes one email to set yourself up for the opportunity that you want, but your approach can make or break that opportunity.
Last month, GlamBAMN featured me as a spotlight member and asked if I wanted to host a webinar. I immediately knew what I wanted to discuss and that was knowing the proper etiquette for asking for what you want.
Since I moved to New York City, I’ve been asking, asking and asking and it sucked. I hated asking people for things, even my own family members, but I quickly learned that I would need people to get me where I wanted to be. With trial and error, I learned how to navigate the game of relationship building because, without it, you can’t begin to understand how to ask. Q1 was huge for me and the direction that I want to take Lemons 2 Lemonade. One thing that I wanted to do is more collaborations with other people and brands. However, while I seek partnerships with other people, I’ve had many people reach out to me for various things. I was frustrated by their inquiries because many of them were partnerships requests disguised as a media pitch or an opportunity to pitch themselves for a seat on my panel. Some people had no relationship to me and were not interested in one, but merely wanted my sponsorship contacts. All of it was wrong and sometimes my time was completely wasted. That’s when I knew sometimes we have to step back and take it back to the basics of relationship building. I think we all forget to take the time to foster real relationships and meaningful connections. Here are some of my tips for knowing how to ask for what you want:
Understand the Difference Between Sponsorship, Relationship & Partnership
First, you have to understand who you are asking and what type of relationship you have or don’t have with that person. Knowing the type of relationship you have will prepare you for the type of response you’ll get. Sponsorship comes from people or brands who like your ideas and will invest in you by sending opportunities your way. You may not hear from them often and you may not kick it with them for Sunday brunch but they will invest in you. A mentor, friend or college colleague, on the other hand, is someone who will empower and uplift you. These are the people who you can vent to as they pull you up. They too can offer opportunities, but your relationship is deeper than your need. What you ask from them or of them can be personal. Lastly, a partnership is mutually beneficial, because both parties receive a positive gain from the collaboration. A partnership is when both parties bring together their resources to create or produce great work. In this relationship, it’s valuable to know what you bring to the table.
Do Your Research
The worse thing you could do is not research the person that you are trying to reach. How can you know what you want to ask if you don’t know who you are asking? Before you draft your email or request a phone call through DM, think about why you want to ask this person and how this person can help with your desired outcome. I had someone who wanted to jump on a call with me to collaborate, but as I began what I look for in collaborations, she had no clue about Lemons 2 Lemonade and the mixers that I organize. Instead, she only wanted to offer me an unpaid job to run her website.
Where she went wrong: 1) I have my own website to run, so I’m not going to run someone else’s for free. 2) An unpaid job is not a collaboration nor is it an opportunity. (That’s a favor and we don’t have that type of relationship). 3) I already contribute to other media sites in which I get paid, so you have to let me know how this is going to bring me value. 4) Lemons 2 Lemonade is my passion and a quick browse on my website and social handles will show that any collaboration or partnership has to have an incorporation with L2L.
A better ask from her that would be mutually beneficial since she is looking for more content for free would have been to offer me a content partnership where she would republish my blog posts and we would cross-promote to drive traffic to my site. She would have fresh content and I would have more traffic and more eyes on Lemons 2 Lemonade.
Research is the easy part but is a major step that people skip. Know a gist of what the brand or person does to help you prepare for your ask and prepare to showcase what you can bring to the table.
Use the Best Platforms to Engage with Them
Sliding into the DMs isn’t always the best approach. It’s rude to send an IG message for a sponsor contact and it’s inappropriate to do a full out business transaction on Facebook messenger. I know it’s easy and convenient but if the person that you want to collaborate with has his or hers email in the bio of their social page with a disclaimer to send inquiries there, then follow instructions and do just that. If you meet someone at a networking event and they tell you to text them, then text them instead of emailing. Follow their lead on how to engage with them so that you can maximize your chances of getting what you want from them.
Have Good Intentions
Discernment is key in whether an opportunity is right for you or if the intentions are good. The biggest mistake people make is when they fish for what someone can do for them with no intentions to offer up anything to the table. Make sure your intentions are good when approaching others for favors or collaborations. People will feel your vibe and may turn you down because something just doesn’t seem right. Think about the real reasons you want to contact the person. Can you see this person being a long time contributor, supporter and colleague? Do you respect their work? Do you understand their mission and purpose? Is this a one time shot to get access to their contacts and network? If the last question is the only one you can answer then you might want to reassess what your goals when it comes to working with people.
Think about these tips when brainstorming your activities for Q3 and Q4 when seeking out partnerships and collaborations.
Also published on Medium.