7 tips to solicit your business network
Do you have a favour to ask your business network? Here are 7 ways to do it with confidence and achieve your goal… without committing a faux pas.
Managers are often required to utilize their network of professional contacts for various reasons: honorary chairpersonship, sponsorship request, job opportunity, participation on boards of directors, etc.
But what is the best way to approach a colleague to make sure you do not get a flat-out refusal or risk annoying them in the process?
1. Show empathy
Soliciting your business network means selling your idea to someone. You need to convince them to devote their time and energy and sometimes to dig into their wallet.
As motivated as you are to talk about YOUR reality, you should adapt your dialogue to theirs. You need to speak their language and ensure your arguments do not revolve solely around you.
To do this, you have to decipher the emotions and needs of the person from whom you are asking a favour. Look for their non-verbal cues. In paying attention to their emotions, you can better determine if your contact is receptive to your request.
2. Do your homework
Your chances of success will be greater if you do some legwork before making your request.
Do your homework and especially your research on each of the people in your professional network that you plan to approach. You can customize your pitch to achieve your goal.
You could be faced with an uphill battle, starting with a lack of time. Plan accordingly. It will be easier to handle resistance if you have identified your arguments in advance.
3. Psych yourself up
You have to pump yourself up before approaching a business associate with the objective of convincing them to accept your proposal.
They will pick up on it if you have doubts, lack confidence or exude a fear of rejection.
Be positive. Stand tall and walk in with a winning attitude. You should believe your proposal is the best and there is no other option for your associate but to say yes.
Put your best foot forward and go for it!
4. Be honest
A lie (even a white one) is never a winning strategy to convince one of your contacts to do you a favour.
Your reputation and credibility are on the line and will be difficult to rebuild if tarnished.
Do not attempt to sugarcoat the truth or embellish to make it appear better. Be up front. Your business associate will recognize you are being truthful and appreciate that your relationship is based on honesty.
5. Be clear and concise
Managers who you approach in your network of contacts have a full plate and their time is limited.
So carefully prepare the speech you intend to use when you make your request. Avoid open-ended sentences that leave room for ambiguity. They simply do not have the time to guess what you are trying to say.
Be brief and direct. If you outline what you want without any unnecessary filler, your counterpart should know exactly what you are asking and how they could help.
Favour a phone call as the means of communication. Ten minutes max should be enough time to go over your file; this is not the case when meeting over a cup of coffee.
6. Strike while the iron is hot
It is a lot easier to convince a professional contact to help you out if you have hit a homerun at the office.
Note the ease with which you can find a receptive ear when you stand out and contribute to your organization’s success.
If you are shy by nature, now is the time to come out of your shell and showcase projects that were brilliantly executed. Take centre stage and proudly promote your professional achievements to the crowd.
7. Be appreciative
Nothing is more natural than taking a few minutes of your time to thank one of your contacts for doing you a favour.
No need to shower them with gifts. A handwritten note, a compliment or taking the time to personally escort them to the elevator are some of the ways you could express your gratitude to this person.
One thing is certain, they may consider you to be ungrateful if you do not thank them and this could adversely affect your professional connection.