Small asks first

I know many people. Because of this, I’m frequently asked for introductions by entrepreneurs that I meet. Usually they want me to introduce them to a person or company that is very well known and in large demand that the person thinks can meaningfully help their business. Of course I want to help.

I always ask the targeted person if they want the introduction, vs introducing them blindly. Most people say that they’re happy to try to help a fellow entrepreneur.

Lately, I’ve noticed a very clear pattern. When I introduce two people, the person who wanted the introduction seems to always want to make big asks. Too many people start with “can we set up a 30 minute call?” Now, I know that many readers will say “huh? That’s a small ask.”. No, it’s quite big for very busy people. Remember that time is often the most precious commodity.

A small ask is better. Remember that you’re being introduced to someone who you know is getting this type of request all the time, but has offered to help. Just ask for one thing, and ask for it in the form of a response by email. If you have 3 questions, ask them by email instead of forcing the person to get on the phone with you real time.

I realize that you are hoping to build a relationship, which is why you want to jump on the phone with your newly introduced connection. But take it slow, make small asks, and build a relationship over time.

Here’s how big an ask is for very busy people:

Tiny = email response, 1 or 2 simple questions in a short email
Small = email response, 3-5 questions in a longer email
Medium = 15 minute phone call
Large = 30 minute phone call
Huge = In person meeting

Start small. Build to huge over time. I’ve seen this work very effectively, and I’ve seen large/huge asks quickly end potential relationships.

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