It’s Never About You: How to Get What You Want by Thinking About Others
Use these 2 techniques to nail your networking requests - and leave everyone happier.
Tapping into and making a request of your network is a great way to strengthen relationships, but it’s a skill that is oftentimes butchered in Silicon Valley. Whether asking for an introduction or feedback on a pitch deck, many people approach these requests with a “me first!” mindset.
Too often, I’ve heard about or experienced an asker making a request through careless texts and emails that provide zero context of the importance or urgency. It becomes very clear that these people are stuck in their own heads. This is just not an effective way to get one’s request fulfilled.
While making a request of your network can come across as self-serving and annoying when done incorrectly, when done right it is an incredible way to strengthen and reinforce relationships. It may be hard to believe, but I feel closer to someone when they ask me for something the right way - I can help, and then I feel invested in their future. Our past UBQT blog post “You’re Doing It All Wrong: 3 Mindset Shifts to Fix the Way You Network” goes further into the right way to network and follow up.
In this particular post, I’ll focus on how to make your initial outreach/request as successful as possible so you get what you want faster:
1) Make it super clear what’s in it for them.
To get what you want when making a request, you should always put the other person first. Start by ensuring that everything you ask of other people is framed in how it will make them look good and how it will make their goals more achievable. Then, they’ll be much more inclined to help get you what you want. Though it can sometimes be tough to determine exactly what’s in it for the intermediary, with a little time and creativity, you can always ensure there’s a benefit for them.
Let’s use an introduction request as an example. If you’re asking someone in your network to introduce you to the CEO of a company, make it crystal clear how fulfilling your request is beneficial to them.
Bad example (>50% of the requests I get):
“Hey - Can you connect me to Pierre-Damien Vaujour?”
“Can you introduce me to the CEO of Loft Orbital, Pierre-Damien Vaujour - (https://www.linkedin.com/in/vaujour/)? I’m in the midst of incorporating my new space startup and I want his advice on a few space-focused lawyers. In turn, I think I can bring him up to speed on a few more nascent trends (his company is 5 years old now) and I may even turn into a Loft Orbital payload customer (hopefully he’ll thank you for being a good investor and sending him future business!). I really appreciate the favor if you can do it. ”
By making it exciting for the intermediary to do what you’re asking of them (they’ll be able to help their connection get new business and you’ll “owe them one”), they’ll feel more invested in helping you get what you want by connecting you to Pierre-Damien. Most importantly, you’ll become partners on your request, rather than it feeling like you’re nagging them to do something for you.
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2) Make it ridiculously easy for them to fulfill your request.
Another way to improve your chances of getting what you want when making a request of your network is to make it as easy as possible for your request to be fulfilled. Encapsulate each request with all of the context necessary so that the intermediate party doesn’t have to do or add anything. If packaged appropriately, your request will be preserved in full fidelity, which will lessen the chance of any unnecessary delays due to your intermediary’s need for further clarification from you.
Important strategies for preserving your request and making it easy to pass on include:
Use a brand new, fresh email (don’t use a pre-existing thread)
Create an informative subject line
Include a section that can be easily forwarded to the person you’re hoping to connect with
Hyperlink everyone’s name to their respective LinkedIn URLs
Taking these steps will ensure that fulfilling your request only takes seconds of your intermediary’s time. Even if they are willing to take the extra time to help you (especially since you’ve laid out the benefits to them for doing so), they’ll appreciate the effort you took to make the task as simple as possible.
Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on startups solving real-world physical problems with "software beyond the screen", often using smart hardware or machine learning.
If your startup fits this description, fill out the 60-second Ubiquity pitch form and you’ll hear back within 24 hours.