36 great comments!

How To Get People To Do Something For You

 how to get, phone calls, getting people, to do, job search, for you, linkedin, phone, something, ideas, moving, people, unread, respond, plenty If you are at all like me, there are quite a few unread emails in your in-box.  There are also some that were read and not responded to yet.

Same with phone messages.

While I keep trying to reduce the amount of incoming email, more seems to come.  So I try to keep up and respond to everything.  But I can’t.  And I’m not alone.

Part of the problem is driven by the holidays.  That 4-6 week period where we all spent more time relaxing with people than emailing them.  Or responding to them in other formal ways.

And then everyone gets back to work or back to the job search and there’s new work on top of the work they left behind.

If you are wondering why so few people are getting back to you right now, there’s your answer.  Somewhere someone is choosing to either act upon your request or ignore it.

So what can you do?

How do you get your requests handled before the requests of others? And before too much time has passed?

Here are 5 ideas to release the pent-up demand and get people focused on you:

Ask them again – while being a pest is certainly a possibility when you are trying to get your needs taken care of, there’s nothing wrong with one strong follow-up.  A friendly reminder to someone who never intended to ignore you.  But did.  So you’ll probably get a “so sorry, sure glad to help” answer. They feel bad for not answering sooner and you get what you wanted.

Try a different medium – if your first attempt was via email, try a phone call this time.  Think of a time during the early AM or late afternoon when someone is at their desk and may reach for the phone.  Be prepared to quickly remind them of your request and offer to send a follow-up or reminder via email or text. One they can easily reply to.

Do something nice – write a recommendation for them or their company on LinkedIn.  Re-tweet something on Twitter they wrote and add a nice comment.  Comment on their blog posts (everyone likes comments).  Give them a +K on Klout. Buy their stock on Empire Avenue.  Or get old-fashioned and drop off a small gift.  Each of these are like poking your face in their car window.  But without the creepy aspect.  You are getting back on their radar.

Make it easy or convenient – if the thing you need is an introduction to a target company, write an intro for them so they can just tweak and forward it along.  Same with recommendations on LinkedIn (worst case, remind them of your accomplishments while you worked together).  If it is a meeting you want, provide specific times when you know you can be available (and just so you know, “how’s next week” will not move things along). Or offer to meet them at a Starbucks near their house or a close freeway entrance.

Remind about relevance – sometimes we need a kick in the pants as to why you need something done.  And why now.  Maybe there is a time sensitivity and you can remind them about that.  Maybe the thing they are supposed to do will actually help them in the end.  Not you.  Reinforce the reason why you are asking and the benefit of their acting.  And you may get moved to the front of the line.

How about you?  How do I get you to move when I need you to?

And what has been successful for you?

Thanks waterarchives for the great photo via Flickr


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: | | | |
Categories: Career Networking
  • Scott Griffin

    Great article. I think one thing in addition to everything that you wrote that will get people to do stuff for you is to become the type of person that people want to do stuff for. That means, the first time around when you met with the person from whom you want a favor, you should have done the following: Left your cell phone in the car (there is absolutely no reason to have it with you during a meeting- nothing is more important that what you are doing with the person you are engaged with at that moment), showed up on time, brought with you a pad of paper and pen for notes, and followed up with a short note thanking them for their time and reminder of any commitments that were made during that meeting. Another thing I do, which people love, is if I called the meeting, I always print out 2 copies of a 1 page agenda of what I want to cover during that meeting- one for me, one for them.

    Too many people in this smart phone addicted era are scatter brained and sloppy at everything they do. Likely, the people that you want favors from are the types of people that got to be where they are by doing the things that I listed above, so you should do them too. If you don’t, it will be noticed.

    Also, I have my own personal set of business best practices that I follow. I won’t post them all here, but I will post this below because it coincides with what you have written:

    like to help people who have helped them. Do an unsolicited favor for
    another person, and disguise it so that it looks like you aren’t
    expecting anything in return. When the time comes that you need
    something that the other person can help you with, they will be much
    more likely offer their assistance, so as to no longer be indebted to

  • Thanks for the tips!

  • You are welcome Paula – thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  • Like those additions Scott.  And I agree re: the smart phone era problems.  We have too many things to react to – a lot of shiny objects that often prevent us from getting to the big stuff.

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  • I usually don’t ask much from people, hoping that once I do, they will appreciate the fact that I don’t do it often and figure out that I really need that or I wouldn’t have asked. I guess that builds my credibility so I don’t get refused much.

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