Todd, the man one of my dear clients referred to as my “e-mail whisperer” gave me my first glimpse into the unfamiliar world of asking. When he told me about his services, I’d said I was definitely interested. The following week, he sent a follow-up note telling me where he had openings for a meeting. “Would you like to meet on Wednesday or Friday?” I didn’t get back to him. I was so swamped (which was precisely why I needed him). He got in touch again the next week with a few more options for meeting times. This is the sort of thing I wouldn’t normally do. I would let a prospective client get back to me on her own time, thinking “she knows where to find me so I won’t bother her” and “I wouldn’t want her to feel pressured.” I thought that was nice. But being on the other end of Todd’s follow-ups was awesome. It was such a gift. It was SO helpful. And SO nice. He knew what I needed and he wanted to help me get there. And I know for certain all I would have had to say is “This isn’t a fit for me right now” and he’d back off. But I knew it was a fit and I am so glad that I scheduled him when I did – thanks to his following up – because he changed the way I manage my inbox and it’s made a world of difference.
My husband Keith often offers to do things for me so I don’t really get to exercise my asking muscles. Well, I ask for things for the household – like, “can you pick up bread on your way home?” but not stuff that is only for me and my pleasure. But, as part of my experiment, I’m practising. A few nights ago, he was in the kitchen and I asked him if he’d bring me a glass of water. Nothing big. But I was thirsty and that was something I desired. And he did it. And it felt really wonderful to receive. Even with the people who are so, so willing to give, somehow asking can be really hard. I think, for a lot of women, we’re really raised to be givers. And there is certainly joy in giving (which is why we shouldn’t keep others from that joy, right?).
So, let’s talk about our businesses.
What asks are we not asking? Have you asked your clients if they would provide a review of your services? (When someone asks you to provide a review for a business you love, doesn’t it make you feel happy to contribute to their success?) Are you asking for a fee that feels truly fair to you? On your website, are you asking for exactly the kinds of clients you love best? Are you asking for payment terms that allow you manage your business’ cash flow?
To figure out what to ask, we first have to figure out what we DESIRE. This is huge. Some of us are so disconnected from our desires, from knowing what pleases us, that we can get stumped. And that will show up in every area of our lives.
So here is your homework for the end of 2011, dear readers; please answer these questions:
- What do you DESIRE for your business (and your life)?
- And how can you turn that into an ask?
Writer Carrie Klassen is a green tea enthusiast, amateur poet, fine point pen aficionado, INFJ Scorpio, and president of Pink Elephant Creative, a writing and design boutique for inspired entrepreneurs. She also writes workbooks and teaches workshops at Pink Elephant Academy for Entrepreneurs.