I received an email from someone recently who said they’d like to be involved in my business. He said he was a fan and had been following me for a while and noted some things he would gain from the interaction. He closed his message by asking if there was any way he could help out and that he would appreciate the opportunity.
Now, I am a big fan of people reaching out — cold-calling, if you will (even though this person had met me once, so this wasn’t actually “cold”) — and making opportunities where none previously existed. And, like they say, you must make the ask if you want the sale. But there are some skills to it that could have helped this young man.
When offering someone help, make it clear what exactly you can help with. Be specific, not general. “Everything” is not a viable offer: no one is good at everything. If you needed someone editing your writing, would you rather have someone who offers “editing skills” or a person who offers to do “anything you need”? Exactly.
- Sell your abilities with proof. What have you done already? Who have you helped? What have you created on your own, or even for yourself, that serves as proof of your abilities. Being in school or not having been offered an opportunity yet are not viable excuses, especially in 2015. Forget it.
- Do something without being told what to do and present the result. For example: if this young man had emailed me with 10 blog posts ideas he could do, he would have a much greater chance of grabbing my interest over his “I can do anything” approach (a person who can do anything, usually can do nothing… well). He could have laid out a plan for a promotion for some of my books. He could’ve reached out to some basketball blogs on my behalf, telling them how great I am and why they should do a story on me. There are no limits.
The sad end to the story is I wasn’t interested in the young man’s offer, simply because 1) He was too general 2) He had no proof of any skills to show me, and 3) He didn’t take any initiative, even after I asked him what he was good at and how he could prove it.
Nothing stopping him from emailing me again, though.