No, I Don’t Want To Do You Any Favors.

IN: Just The Tip, Pet Peeves

You know when you need a favor from someone, but it’s been seventeen months since you spoke with them, so you start writing an email containing at least 2 full paragraphs making small talk, asking how they’re doing, so at the very least you don’t seem as self-involved as you are? I’ll make you cry if you send me an email like that.


<Thinly-veiled bullshit paragraph one>.

<Thinly-veiled bullshit paragraph two>.

By the way, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind passing this along to your network?

Hope you’re doing fabulous!

Oodles of Xs and Os!

First of all, no, I’m not doing fabulous. I have wrinkles now, asshat. And since the last time we spoke was 2007, I had, up until now, happily assumed you moved to the arctic to build the world’s first minimalist igloo using nothing more than donkey urine and mashed quinoa. Are you sending this email from your minimalist igloo?

Secondly, while this may come as a shock, I’m not interested in “passing along” another riveting e-course on “facing your fears” to my “network.”

And thirdly, if you’d like to use me, you crafty little fucker, I’d recommend not making it so obvious. You know, send me a fruit basket every once and a while. Call to check in on the status of the dog I sometimes think about getting. Sing me a song on my birthday. Or—and I know this is a novel approach—try just sending an email every once in awhile that isn’t asking me to tap dance around fire to do you yet another favor.

What’s that? You can’t be bothered to send me an email every couple of months? That’s too much trouble? Too much thought? Well then, old buddy, old pal, I’m sorry to report: I can’t be bothered with your request, either.

This is how the world works.

You give and you receive. But life isn’t 365 days of Christmas, and you can’t expect to just receive all the time. (Unless I’ve been seriously duped and that’s EXACTLY what we should all be expecting.)

So if you’re really too lazy to put any effort into this very one-sided relationship, then at least you could fake it. Set up an auto-responder sequence in AWeber that automatically sends out an email every eight weeks saying, “Just checking in—how goes business, Ash?” or “Me, again. I miss our talks. What’s new in your world?” It’ll dramatically reduce the number of things you have to remember, while simultaneously making you seem like a thoughtful human being who isn’t out to just get yours. With, of course, the benefit being that when you do make the very annoying ask to share something with “my network,” I might actually be more inclined to do so. Because doing so doesn’t feel like I’m just being guilted into becoming your whipped little bitch.

Today’s Just The Tip: Make an effort with people. Honestly. Even if it’s a past client who you might actually want a referral from. Don’t just show up in their inbox a year later with some lame, “I know it’s been FOREVER…” Yeah, it has been forever. Glad you’ve noticed. And unless you’re my best friend from the second grade, forever isn’t good enough to ask me for something right out of the gate. I am not that nice. The world is not that nice.

So if you really want that favor?

Do yourself one, first.

Learn how to write a non-needy email. Or actually set up that auto-responder series. Every time you finish work with a client, add their name to the auto-responder sequence, and have a check-in email go out to them a few weeks later. And then again in a few months. It will, at the very least, encourage a conversation…without you having to remember to constantly start it.

A little consideration goes a hell of a long way when it comes time to ask for a favor without making everyone feel like they’re bending over and getting it crammed up their keister. Because as soon as you stop caring about the clients, the customers, and those connections, you stop networking and start being a needy fuck. (And no one wants as that as their nickname.)