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The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

A key attribute of a successful entrepreneur is his ability to make a request or ask questions. Even though this may seem like an obvious distinction, many entrepreneurs underestimate the power of asking.

The consequences of not asking can affect the progress of your entrepreneurial venture. Many entrepreneurs are still stuck in this notion of trying to become successful without asking for help. Unfortunately for them, they will struggle to get out of square one.

Successful entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates all owe their fortunes to their ability of making requests and asking the right questions. They all know the power of asking has helped them achieved their goals; their accomplishment were not carried out by themselves alone.

The power of asking will serve you greatly on your path towards entrepreneurial success. If you need further convincing, here are seven benefits of making requests and asking questions.

1. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

No one will know what you want if you don’t ask. It is as simple as that.

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A major obstacle that many entrepreneurs face when they ask someone is the feeling of shyness and intimidation. You will be pleased to know that every successful entrepreneur was in the same boat before they made their first request.

A good way to overcome shyness or intimidation is to remember there is no harm in asking. The worst that can happen when you ask someone is that they will say “no.”

2. You save time.

You can save a lot of time by asking for help. Many successful entrepreneurs will agree with this benefit.

In 1969, a young Sir Richard Branson was arrested and spent a night in jail for smuggling a stack of vinyl records through British customs. He did this to avoid paying taxes. Fortunately for Sir Richard, the officials did not press any charges against him. In his autobiography, Branson wrote that after being released from jail, he learned a valuable lesson in asking people for help. If Branson had asked someone for advice on how to pay less taxes through a legal route, he would not have wasted so much time travelling and smuggling records into the country.

In order for you to save time, make a list of key tasks within your project that you are not fully comfortable in completing. It is important that you are honest with yourself when you make this list. Then ask the relevant people in your network on how to complete those tasks without wasting so much time.

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3. You get better at negotiating.

Not everyone is going to comply to your request, but the power of asking will help to improve your negotiations skills. You can improve your negotiation skills by adding a favor in return of your request. For example, if you are a website designer and you ask a caterer for their services at a discounted rate, you can add in a favor of developing their website at a discounted rate.

4. You build better professional relations.

It helps to understand both your colleagues and collaborative partners in the long-run. By establishing strong professional relations, your collaborative projects will be completed on time. You can build strong relations by asking your colleagues about their work habits and their strengths. Using this valuable information, you can develop a plan that can work around their unique traits.

5. You build strong customer relations.

An entrepreneur cannot succeed without his customers. Successful entrepreneurs know the true value of understanding their customers by simply asking them. Regularly interacting with your customers can reveal what is really in demand in your segment of the market. Thanks to social media, you can easily interact with your customers and retrieve feedback straight away.

6. Asking gives you a competitive edge over non-askers.

There is an old saying that many entrepreneurs still believe in and it goes:

“The world belongs to the takers.”

The above quote is far from the truth. The world of entrepreneurship and business really belongs to  “askers.”

A majority of entrepreneurs don’t take the time in making requests or asking questions. They settle for what is given to them. But you should use this to your advantage; entrepreneurs who are not afraid to ask will get what they want and they don’t settle for anything less. Be different; put yourself out there.

7. You get out of your comfort zone.

This is a big benefit. The power of asking can get you out of your comfort zone. It encourages you to interact with different people and helps you overcome any feeling of shyness/intimidation. The more people you interact with, the more requests you can make.

How to prepare yourself to make requests or ask questions.

The benefits written above show that entrepreneurs who ask around will progress much further on life. To help you start preparing your requests and questions, here are a few handy tips.

1. Know what you want.

This is key. If you don’t know what you want, then you will not know what to ask. It is as simple as that. To know what you want, get a pen and paper and write down your main entrepreneurial objectives. Then write a list of suitable questions and requests that will help you achieve your objective. Ensure your questions and requests are politely worded; a “please” and a “thank you” can go a long way.

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2. Find out who to ask and where to find them.

Only certain people will be able to comply to your request or question. If your request or question is about web design, then you need to ask a web developer/designer. A key tip to help you find the right person is knowing where they congregate. People who share a similar skill will congregate together often, usually at networking events or online forums. Do some research on these networking events and online forums, then take necessary action.

3. Go out and ask.

Mastering the power of asking takes trial and error. It is crucial to maintain a positive mindset when you start asking around. If you have experienced a string of rejections, use this an opportunity to review your questions/requests and see how they can be improved. Asking is a skill, it takes practice to master it.

Featured photo credit: Roo Reynolds via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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