How to Ask for Favors in Business

“It’s all about who you know.” No doubt, networking can really have its perks.

Recently, we discussed how beneficial networking can be to your business growth. Yet, some people seem to get stumped when it comes not to building that network, but how to ask for favors from that network when the time is right.

Whether they’re giving you a job recommendation, introducing you to a potential client, or just giving some career advice, your professional contacts can make the biggest difference in helping you achieve your career goals. Though favors sound nice, they do often come at a cost. If you want someone to do you a favor, you need to build your social capital first.

Social capital is a concept that references interpersonal connections as an asset. The key to building strong social capital is building solid, firm, relationships with your contacts. Essential is avoiding the tendency to only reach out when YOU need something. Instead, main consistent contact over time and offer your help when and where you can. Being thoughtful and considerate first, will help you build and nurture that relationship and demonstrate respect. In return, this will later give you the right to ask for favors or help too.

Before you ask for help from others in your network, check that you’ve followed these 6 steps:

1. Connect on LinkedIn
When you initially meet potential professional connections, your first step should be to add them as LinkedIn connections with a personalized message. When you add them, LinkedIn will send you email updates about your new connection, such as anniversaries, career changes and promotions, which can convert into an opportunity to connect and reconnect with the contact in the future.

2. Take advantage of special milestones
When you receive updates about your network connections, utilize those updates to their full potential. For example, if your contact receives a promotion, send them a congratulatory message. This also applies to holidays, birthdays, events, and other milestones. A simple email or phone call can go a long way and may even start up some conversation that can lead to other opportunities.

3. Send your connections relevant articles
If you’re reading an interesting article and you want to share it with a colleague, don’t hesitate. Send it on over. Your contact may enjoy it as much as you did and even benefit from reading it too. This also demonstrates that you are interested in your contacts and their best interest.

4. Invite a contact or two to a professional event
Don’t be afraid to invite one or several current contacts to a networking event you’re attending. The more the merrier. They may notice a detail or meet someone that you didn’t, which could lead to additional great connections. Additionally, your contact will then likely keep you in mind for the future, as a result of your easy and simple invite to the event.

5. Ask to catch up
Avoid only reaching out to your contacts when you need something. Reach out to them periodically “just because.” Remind them how long it’s been since you two have spoken and let them know that you’d like to reconnect. The majority of the time, your contact will welcome that idea and will appreciate your honesty and thoughtfulness as well.

To recap, networking can be an awesome way to build your business or career. But networking and network building can also be somewhat useless if you don’t know – or feel prepared – to ask for favors when necessary. Key is realizing that doing so will be much easier if you have done your part to support the relationship first.

That way, when actually requesting the favor, it doesn’t feel hollow, artificial, or forced. Instead, it just feels like real friends, really helping each other move forward and succeed. Just the way it should be.