In my life, I've had so many wonderful friends, collegues, and mentors help me on my professional path. Whether the kindness of a stranger, or someone taking a chance on me, I feel very lucky to have had support while starting a business. Knowing how much others have helped me, I try to always make myself available to others who are looking for help with thier own businesses.
Each week, I get an inbox full of questions and requests for help. I'm always happy to help but sometimes I'm a bit taken aback but the rude messages that land in my inbox. Here's the right way to make a professional business request.
Start with an introduction -- and be personal.
Some of the emails I've recieved don't offer any kind of introduction or even a hello. Just a demanding question from a random person I've never met. A good email is polite, has a salutation and is respectful of the other person's time.
When you reach out for a favor, introduce yourself to the recepient. Tell them who you are and why you are reaching out. Then directly state your request. Though a short email can rub someone the wrong way, a long one might not be obvious about your need. Keep emails a few sentences with a clear request and friendly greeting.
Make it easy for the other person to offer an introductions.
When I was job searching, every job I got was because of a direct introduction to someone at the company. I'm always happy to facillitae these types of introductions for people in my network. When I would outreach to someone to make an introduction, I would write the introduction mail for them. This way, the person doing me a favor had to do as little work as possible in their end, since they were already kind enough to offer me their help.
When you ask for an introduction, make sure you tell the possible connector the "who", "what" and "why" of your request to make it easy for them to introduce you.
Offer your own help.
When I'm asking for advice or insight, I try to make myself of value to the other person. If someone is giving me feedback on my project I'll ask them how I can be helpful to them. Whether it's directly asking them what they need or providing them with something you think could of value.
When you offer your own expertise and guidance to others, they in turn will often do the same from you. Instead of thinking about how other people can help you, ask yourself how you can help them.