Calling in a favour: How to leverage your networks

How well do you leverage your networks? Do you tap into the people you know for the insights, contacts or ideas you need to achieve your goals? Do you ask to be introduced to people you want to meet? Do you ask people to share their lessons learned or to act as a referee?

It’s common for people to feel hesitant to ask for favour. Moving past fear however is essential to unlocking the potential of your networks to enable your success.

Among the most important things you can do to call in a favour and feel good about doing it are these:

Earn it

Your ability to leverage the relationships in your network depends greatly on the extent to which people trust and respect you. Most people are willing to help those they regard as a good person. Integrity, kindness and accountability are traits people typically for look for when determining if someone is deserving of their support. Long before you ask a favour, invest in building strong relationships.

Be targeted

Think carefully about the ability for someone to really help you to achieve what you need before approaching them. The better positioned someone is to truly make a difference, the more likely they are to want to help. Reflect for yourself on how much more likely you are to volunteer if you know you have the knowledge or capability to make a meaningful contribution. Recognise when the real favour you are asking is to be on referred to someone else.

Give and take

In part, the trust people feel toward you will be influenced by your own generosity and willingness to do them a favour when needed. Reflect for a moment on how you would feel about doing a favour for someone typically hesitant to lend a helping hand when asked to? The simple truth is if people perceive you to be stingy with your time, energy or support they are unlikely to be willing to do you a favour when you need it.

Ask for what you want

Choose to put your hand up and ask for the support you need. Asking for a favour isn’t necessarily imposing and doesn’t have to be seen as overstepping boundaries. Recognise that you deserve help as much as the next person and step forward to access the assistance you need. Be clear about what you are asking for and leave it with the other person to decide whether they are willing and able.

Work through fears

Among the most common things people fear when asking for a favour are rejection and not being worthy. In other words people often worry they will be seen as presumptuous, arrogant or even naïve for asking. They also worry about their right to ask; that is whether they have earned the standing, respect or reputation to make asking for a favour okay. Don’t allow unfounded assumptions and beliefs to hold you back. If your request is met with a no, then understand why and move on.

Follow up

As the age-old saying goes, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. That said, busy people also have a tendency to get distracted or run out of time for favours they have promised. A delay in getting what you need doesn’t mean the person no longer wants to help. Don’t be afraid to follow people up and give them a gentle nudge.

Be grateful

Appreciate the support people give you and show it. Take the time to say thank you and demonstrate your gratitude for the time, energy, money or talent invested in helping you. Even the smallest favour deserves acknowledgement. Remember you may want to call on an even bigger favour in the future. Forgetting to show appreciation is likely to make most people hesitant to say yes next time around.

At the end of the day you don’t get if you don’t ask. Be thoughtful, respectful and gracious but don’t allow unfounded fears and hesitations to hold you back from asking for a favour. Approach relationships with a give and take mentality and everyone is more likely to benefit. Be willing to lend a helping hand and in turn people are likely to want to support you when you need them to.

Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. This article was first published by Women’s Agenda


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