“At least once a day I get an e-mail asking me for some ridiculous, selfish thing that someone wants. And then they write under it, as if it excuses them, ‘You can’t blame a girl for asking.’ Well actually, I can. And I will.”

-; Seth Godin, author of Tribes and cofounder of Squidoo, in an interview with Andrew Warner at Mixergy.com.

Godin may be the godfather of the “ask economy,” but he’s still baffled by the fact that so many business people don’t understand that how you ask for help matters. His point: It can’t be about you. “When you’re asking for someone to spend time with you, you gotta think really hard about why they ought to do it, [and find a reason] that has nothing to do with you.”

So, how do you ask for a customer referral?

Whether you want someone to make calls on your behalf or to promote you on their social networks, the key is knowing when to ask, says marketing veteran Kern Lewis. “The best time to do so? In the midst of delivering excellent service, and regularly thereafter,” he writes in the Forbes post “Five Steps to Generating Better Business Referrals.”

This article was originally published at The Build Network.