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Can’t-Miss Marketing: Just Ask

Can’t-Miss Marketing: Just Ask

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    In the year since I started blogging, I’ve gotten a bunch of freelance writing gigs and regular jobs writing all over the Web. But, initially, no one offered them to me. I had this blog I was proud of, a super-cool design, and yet the offers didn’t flood in. Crazy, right? Tell me about it.

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    I finally decided that if I wanted something to happen, I had to go and get it. So I did the simplest thing I could think of: I just asked for it. I wrote to a bunch of different sites, and asked if they needed writers. I pitched a few ideas, used my blog as a resume, and offered my services.

    I couldn’t give you an exact number, but the response rate to my emails was extraordinarily low. Let’s just say that if I were a baseball player with that batting average, I wouldn’t be a baseball player much longer. Only a couple of people responded at all, and a few of those turned into the jobs I got initially as a freelance blogger. But my batting average wasn’t high.

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    And it didn’t matter. For the opportunities that didn’t come my way, all it cost me was a few minutes of my time to send an email. The hour it took to write ten emails, even if it only generated one response, was well worth it just for that one response.

    I got my dream job this summer from exactly the same thing: I sent an email. I can’t explain why it worked, or why I got a response instead of the hundred or so other people my boss got applications from. It worked, though, and for one reason: I asked. If I never heard back, so be it; it’s a wasted ten minutes. But I did, and it became a fantastic experience for me.

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    Simply asking is the most useful marketing tool I’ve ever discovered. You can have a spectacular resume, the most polished skill set, and the perfect passions for a job or opportunity, but if you don’t ask for it, who’s going to know you want it? Asking, handled the right way, leads to nothing but positive results.

    If you’re anything like me, you’re afraid of asking for things – especially things you really want. I think the problem is that we so fear getting turned down that we run away, in order to be able to somehow hold out hope that we’re good enough for it. Asking, and getting rejected, would somehow only prove our failure and our ineptness for what we really want.

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    The reality, though, is that there are a ton of reasons why an opportunity didn’t come along, most of which have nothing to do with you being a failure: there’s timing, restrictions, personality issues, and a whole litany of other reasons why the opportunity’s not right for you at the moment. Maybe your email just got lost, or maybe the person doesn’t like people with your name – whatever it is, not winning mean doesn’t mean you’re a loser. That can be hard to understand, but not getting down because your batting average isn’t perfect is key to success.

    The more opportunities you put yourself out for, the more you’ll get. Do you want something, whether it’s a job, a cookie, or something else? Ask for it. Do it in a respectful, productive way, and you’ll get a response in kind – even if it’s no. Don’t let the no’s bog you down, and remember: the second “Yes!” is always easier than the first.

    Thanks to simply asking, I’m now writing for ten or so websites I never dreamed would care what I had to say, working for the man with the career I want, and loving every minute of it. All because I asked for it.

    What can you ask for? A better job, more responsibility, more fun, more money, something else? What is there to lose?

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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