Reaching out for help, advice, or an introduction, can be nerve-wracking, But, remember, your contacts are tools to aid, not to impede. To give yourself the best chance to build up your relationship capital, all you need to do is stand tall against presumed standards. It’s time to throw out all those old social mores and focus on results (and the science behind it).
1. You’ll make people like you
Sure, it’s best to project confidence when you interact with members of your network, but that doesn’t mean asking for help or advice makes you seem just the opposite. On the contrary, says a recent New York Magazine blog post:
Across five studies, a research team led by Harvard Business School’s Alison Wood Brooks has found that, in fact, people think better of others who ask for advice—mostly because people really love to give it. Being consulted seems to confer a self-confidence boost, and that in turn positively colors our opinion of the advice-seeker. Seeking advice also seems to strengthen your image within your network, which is of course critical to building relationships.
“Across five studies people are shown to think better of others who ask for advice.”
Trepidation certainly isn’t the only misconception holding us back from reaching out. As a post on Inc.com points out, often, we simply assume people won’t want to help us. A Stanford study confirmed that, as we are afraid to seek advice for fear of looking foolish, we’re also reluctant to ask for favors for fear of being burdensome. Which means that there’s a good chance we’re not asking for enough, and not often enough.
“When people were approached more than once, the second favor was usually granted, even if the first was rejected.”
Further, we may well take a single rejection as a sign to stop asking for favors from anyone. And that’s a shame, because the study concluded that when people were approached more than once, the second favor was usually granted, even if the first was rejected. And while that is reassuring, what it means is you have to be sure to ask for that initial favor, because it’s that one that establishes the link and creates the opportunity down the line.
RelSci helps create competitive advantage for leading non-profit, corporate and financial organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers.