RichTalk with Jamie Crump

The Power of Ask

RichTalk with Jamie Crump: The Power of Ask. Originally published in WBE Canada Magazine; Issue 12. Read our full magazine HERE.

I wasn’t too far into my career before I discovered that I had a much better chance of getting the support and resources I needed if I took solutions into a meeting and not just my problems. Supplier diversity professionals are often asked what kind of help they need. Having something to ask for can be a true differentiator in your supplier diversity strategy.

Time and again, I see clients launch a supplier diversity strategy and take care to create information, deliver it to stakeholders, and provide data around the strategy overall. Yet, when asked how people can help, they have at best vague responses or at worst, no response at all.

The power of that message, so carefully crafted, is to engage others within the organization to take on some aspect of the strategy. But people can only help if they know how. If you can’t tell people how to engage and help, your message will soon be lost with the hum of other presentations that left them empty-handed, even if they were initially excited to help. So, here are a few tips.

First, remember that people almost always want to help. That willingness is often underestimated.

Social psychologist Heidi Grant, in her book Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You says that only 1 in 4 people will ask for help before they absolutely need it (translation: it may already be too late to meet the commitment because the person waited too long). Whether it is fear of rejection, or that judgment will occur for needing help, or that professional stock will go down, people are reluctant to ask for help.

Next, remember those SMART (specific, meaningful, action- oriented, realistic, and time- bound) goals you learned how to do? Well, requests work the same way. This also works when people ask how they can help. This is your core competency, and you are viewed as the resident expert. It is much easier to pitch to someone who knows what they need and has a plan to get there.
I urge clients (corporates and WBEs) to be prepared with 2-3 asks anytime they meet regardless of who it is. If possible, I also encourage that one of those be an easy yes. Get people in the habit of saying yes to supplier diversity. That doesn’t mean you should request things just to request them, but people appreciate specific instructions.

Finally, Grant also says that people want to see or know the impact of their help. So often, we get the help and then we don’t follow up to let them know how their help impacted the result. Never underestimate a thank you that tells how the assistance helped in the overall strategy. Put this on the list of items you need to cover before you are ready for that next meeting, and you won’t regret it.

Til next time –

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Jamie CrumpJamie Crump, President of The Richwell Group