Asking for favours can be awkward.

Whether it’s for a referral, inviting a guest to your podcast or asking about a job opportunity, it’s easy to imagine that the person on the other side feels used.

Today, I want to share some personal strategies I use to make myself come off more authentic when I ask for favours.

They’re small, actionable tips but I found they improved my conversion rate by more than 2 times.
That being said, I want to give the disclaimer that this is based on my personal experience — you can take and adapt the points you find useful, but omit things you disagree with. The different tips shared today can be implemented independent from one another.

Let’s pretend you saw a job opening at a company. LinkedIn informs you that one of your friends works there.

Great! This is your chance to reach out to the friend and get an exclusive insight on the company culture, the role and more… except you haven’t spoken to them in years. You send them a message that reads like this:

This is a very standard message with a standard structure I see a lot of people use. At a quick glance, there is nothing alarmingly wrong about it. But it’s also very generic and insincere — let’s see if we can change it up a bit.

These are 4 small changes, but this sounds a lot more authentic and genuine than before.

That being said, there are still things you should keep in mind when asking for a favour:

1. Adapt these ideas into your own personality.
The 4 changes above are what I learned from different people & books over time. I adapted them to fit how others perceive me, and omitted things that felt unnatural. You should do the same to achieve maximum authenticity.

2. Ask for feedback.
If it’s a truly important message, send it to your friends and ask for feedback. Your closest friends know you the best, and they’ll be able to call it out straight away if something doesn’t sound like your true self.

3. Consider the channel.
In the order from more professional to more personal relationships: email, LinkedIn, other social media channels and personal number is the most appropriate choice for you to reach out on.

4. People will still reject you.
I mentioned these strategies doubled by reply rate, but it’s still not 100%, and it never will be. It’s more like 30% reply rate → 60%. Don’t be put down by others in this world who will inevitably still reject your favour. Keep going!

These are by no means a complete set of rules — I’m still trying to learn and add more to my list.

Do you have any strategies of your own? Share them with us — we would love to hear them!

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Blake Im

Blake is a co-founder of Next Chapter and current data science and decisions co-op scholar. Outside of Next Chapter, he's an investment intern at OIF, with previous track records at companies like J.P. Morgan and Westpac.