Make it easy for people to help you.
Imagine a friend asks for a ride to work as a favor. They say, “Hey, you work near me, so could you give me a lift in tomorrow? Just swing by my house and knock on the door; when I hear you knock I’ll get up and get ready. I start 30 minutes after you, so you’ll probably be a little late because I don’t want to have to get up any earlier. And I’ll smoke in your car, cool?”
How likely are you to want to give that person a lift?
Now imagine they ask in a different way. They say, “Hey friend, since you work near me, could I grab a lift with you in the morning? I’ll walk over to your house and I’ll be there before you’re ready to leave; just let me know when and I’ll be there. And you don’t have to take me all the way; you drive right past 5th Street, so if you drop me off there it’s only a few blocks for me to walk so it won’t be out of your way. I’m making sandwiches for my lunch tomorrow; can I make you one?”
You’re probably much more likely to say yes to that very reasonable request! What’s the core difference?
It’s not just politeness. The person in the first scenario could have said “please” and “thank you” all day, but their request was still far less reasonable. The core difference is that in the second scenario the requester made it easy for you to help them.
Too many people miss this lesson. If you’re asking for a favor, make sure that the person you’re asking has to do the absolute minimum amount of work to complete the favor, and you’ll engender far more good will. If you don’t know how to perform some mechanical operation on your car’s engine, and you ask a mechanic buddy to take a look, don’t have him show up and you’re sitting in your house watching TV. Make sure the car is in the garage, the hood is up, there’s a flashlight nearby, you have any tools you own available, etc. Do everything you can right up to the point where you can’t before tagging in a favor.
Asking someone for a reference? Write it for them and ask if they’d be willing to send it. Or even just ask them if you can drop their name, and they don’t have to do anything. Want someone to bake you a cake? Make sure you’ve bought all the ingredients and have all the mixing bowls and pans ready.
Hopefully you get the idea.
This even applies to more passive activity that isn’t direct requests. Make it easy for people to find you, to learn about you, to engage with you. Live in your world and put information about yourself out there that will let people strike up conversations with you. Don’t hide from the world.
Sometimes I see people on social media complaining about their job search frustrations, saying “no one will give me a chance!” But when I dig deeper and try to learn more about them, they’re a ghost – except for every few weeks, a similar post with similar complaints. I have no way of learning more about them to see how I could help, or to promote them to other people. I want to help you – don’t make it hard for me.
Don’t make it hard for anyone.