There is no doubting that in the coaching and entrepreneurial world, building fantastic and trusting relationships with others can help you in a multitude of ways. This includes being involved in fun joint ventures, increasing your profile, positively sharing the work of others, serving your audience and ideal clients, and an increase in clients as well. Being brave and reaching out to other coaches and entrepreneurs you admire to be involved in things such as a telesummit, an interview series, a podcast, or to become an affiliate, is a wise use of your time. Big tick to that.
It’s only wise however if you do the reaching out part well, which I honestly believe is not that hard to do if you follow some basic entrepreneurial etiquette. Despite this, I am seeing and hearing examples all the time where other people are being approached to participate in projects, interviews and more, and managing those in ways that sometimes confound belief – and potentially damage reputations in the process. Things such as asking guest posts be written in two days, not being upfront with what is truly involved in a joint project, wanting to be paid an affiliate fee after referring someone when no affiliate program exists, and people requesting testimonials from those they have had no prior contact with.
Every one of the examples I give below has happened to me and I know these instances are not isolated. An amazing private group of coaches I am a part of is reporting to each other that particularly over the past year, the number of approaches from others in the coaching and entrepreneurial world that make terrible assumptions, demands, shift gears mid project, or are not fully upfront, is quite rampant. And that’s truly a shame because not only does it mean that what is in all likelihood a very genuine person asking for something they want – then not going to happen, it also has the potential to create ill feelings and even a shutting down from being involved in amazing joint undertakings.
This doesn’t need to happen. You can build incredible professional relationships with others that can absolutely take your coaching or other business to a whole new level and by way of reaching out, make others view you in a way that clearly shows you are professional, warm, engaging, upfront, and make someone want to keep their connection to you an ongoing one. And you can really go a long way to literally not pissing someone off and wasting their time too!
Do not ask someone to turn their camera on if you have told them your interview is going to be an audio one.
An audio interview means an interview that is conducted with camera off, even if someone is not being visually recorded and you just want to see them. You never know what situation they may be in and how difficult it might be for them to turn the camera on. They may be in their pj’s, have baby spew in their hair, or be propped up in bed with a cup of tea – all ready to talk to you – but not be seen – because they didn’t think they were going to be seen. It’s unnecessarily putting someone on the spot. If you wish to conduct an interview with camera on – even if only being audio recorded – ensure you state that in your initial request – and you will likely get a positive yes.
If you have requests of someone such as you would like them to share what you are doing together on social media, or that you need them to provide you with something, or that you wish for them for to send a dedicated email to their newsletter list – don’t state these things after they have said yes or you have even started to engage. State them in your very first approach so they have every piece of information they need to make an informed decision. Not only will this save you a lot of time, energy and effort if someone has to say no further into the process because they either cannot or do not want to meet your requests, you will have an undoubtedly happy receiver on the end of your email as they will know they are dealing with someone who is professional, straight forward, and outstanding clear in what they want. Please note that it is ok for you to have requirements of any joint venture or project you want to do. It’s just not ok to be secretive, withholding or not upfront about them.
Do not ever use the line ‘This will be good for you’ or ‘I know this will bring you clients or sales’ in any approach you make.
You do not know that and cannot make that assumption. Such things do not need to be said. Just ask politely.
Do not refer someone and then ask for an affiliate or referral fee for doing so.
If you referring people to someone else is dependant upon you getting paid, do your own research and see if they have an affiliate program you may be able to be a part of. If it’s not clear, then by all means politely enquire if they have one. Note the word ‘enquire’ and not assume. Not every coach or entrepreneur has an affiliate program for all or even any of their services, and they owe neither you or anyone else the right to access one if they do not want to do so.
Don’t request to speak to someone in person, via Skype, or over the phone if you are not prepared to give all information about what you are doing, what you want, and what your expectations of them are clearly given first.
It is not ok to get someone to commit to time with you to only then reveal these things at a later stage. You make it much harder for someone to feel like they have the time and space to really consider how the opportunity fits in with their business and schedule – if it even does. This is – if not handled well – a form of ambushing that I’m yet to know anyone feel great about. Don’t be that person.
If you want to be taken seriously do not reach out for someone to be involved in something via messaging on Facebook, asking them to email you on Instagram or a tweet saying ‘Yo let’s DM!’ on Twitter.
If it’s important to you – do things properly and go to their contact page on their website and email them.
Keep in contact.
If there is a delay of any kind that means something is not going to happen in the timeframe that you originally said it would – don’t make someone chase you. Reach out and let them know there is a delay, (totally ok and happens to the best of entrepreneurs all the time), and that you will let them know as soon as it’s happening. It’s not a nice feeling when someone gives up their time and expertise and then weeks or even months later realise that they’ve never seen the interview you did with them on their blog, or that guest post go live, forcing them to reach out to you to ask what may have happened and if indeed it’s going ahead at all.
Do not let the person you have engaged with find out that what you have done together is live without informing them first.
You have a much better chance of them feeling really great about what you have done together if in fact they find out about it from you, rather than either seeing it pop up in their Facebook news feed or worse still – not seeing it at all – and missing it all together. They could have given you great support and sharing that you’ve entirely missed out on.
Give people time.
If you are reaching out to someone really amazing that you’re excited to have as part of your project, it’s a given that they are going to need at least three weeks to be able to send you answers to an interview, schedule something in their diary, or read and review something for you. Note the words here ‘at least’ and in fact the more time you can give someone to do something for you the more likely you will get a yes response. Contacting someone and expecting them to do something for you inside a week is not only likely to not get you what you want – it’s a little arrogant as well.
Respect the word no.
And please do not take it personally. There are some entrepreneurs and coaches who receive large numbers of requests to be involved in things and it’s simply impossible for them to say yes to them all. And it’s not just about volume either, sometimes for reasons that are unknown to you, (and may remain unknown), things just don’t fit into their schedule, work, timings. This has nothing to do with you or the quality of what you may be proposing. It’s simply where they are right now. Don’t ask them why, make them explain or hound them to change their mind. Not everyone you approach is going to say yes and it simply makes way for the next brilliant person who is meant to come your way.
Do not ask someone to read and give you a testimonial if you have had no contact with them prior.
We all know that social proof is a very important component of online business, but the giving of testimonials is something that needs to come from a trusted and established relationship and should not be something that you ask of people without careful thought and consideration. This is especially the case if what you are asking them to read or engage in is going to take them a lot of time.
Be mindful of making any approaches for things such as interviews or guest posts if your online space is extremely new and not very established.
Not only are you much better off concentrating on building your own voice and having your ideal clients hear that, (rather than someone else’s), without an established web presence you’re making it very challenging for someone else to really know who you are, what works well in your business and what your ideal clients most want and need. Keep remembering this is all about service right? Right. It’s what your ideal clients want and need that comes first.
Be gracious and beyond appreciative if asking for products or donations for free or at a greatly discounted rate.
While I am not a product based business and cannot speak on behalf of them, what I do know from having many business coaching clients who do have this type of business is that they receive requests to donate prizes, offer discounts and give away product – all.the.time. Please, please be extremely respectful if you are going to make an ask of this kind and do not assume that it is easy or cheap or accessible for them to give something to you. It may be some of those things and very worth their time – but it also may be very hard for them and something that requires great thought and consideration. And it goes without saying that you must must mention very clearly what you will do for them in return for their generosity. If you don’t know what that is or hadn’t even thought that necessary? You shouldn’t be asking anyone for anything.
If you feel it necessary to ask someone the size of their newsletter list before you work with them, be prepared for no response or a no response.
If you want to ask this question – that’s ok if it’s important to you. However, for many other people it’s not the most important reason why they would choose to engage with someone. I’m one of those people. Many people may see you questioning the size of their list as something to be wary of, as it can be taken that they believe your list size is of more importance than who you are, your skill, knowledge, and what you have to offer. Clearly this ask is one whereby the person requesting is looking to ensure that you will share your work together in a way that is going to benefit them. The bigger your list – the supposed bigger result for them. However I’m not sure anyone really likes to be asked this question, give an honest answer and then be told – sorry – you’re not big enough. Not so great a feeling. Ask it if you want, but if list size is that important to you consider doing some serious investigation of the person you want to connect with via their newsletter and social media channels, both of which can give you a very sound idea of the level of reach they have and if it meets your needs. Do also consider that someone may have a small list but an incredible amount to offer you, your project and your clients that no one else has and that could be worth a great deal more to you and the people most important to you in your business than them sending an email to their database.
I’d love your thoughts and inputs on this entire topic and I do appreciate that this of course is just my perspective. It’s the perspective though of someone who has gratefully been fielding requests to be involved with projects every week and for many years now. And I’ll never want them to stop coming. Just to maybe them stopping coming with lots of assumptions, demands and veiled requirements and with a lot more honesty and authenticity.
Have you been approached by another coach or entrepreneur in a way that left you cold? Ever been ambushed or had an experience where you said yes – only to be told what you would ‘really’ have to do or give? Been caught in your pj’s and asked to turn your camera on when you believed you weren’t going to be seen? Or maybe you have had some amazing experiences where you have been approached beautifully and with great professionalism and respect. Let’s hear them all – and with no naming and shaming please. This is not about attacking people – it’s about learning and developing better connections with each other. And also realising of course that there are exceptions to all of the above, such as knowing someone really well or them being a pro buddy or friend of yours. ‘Etiquette’ in such circumstances is more relaxed due to an established relationship. This is all about approaching people you may not know very well or might have had only a small amount of contact with.
I know I’ve had both ends of this experience – and some have left a lasting impression with me – both good and the not so good. Love you to share your thoughts and also share this entrepreneurial etiquette guide with others if you think it helpful for them.
The more we can all get this right for each other – the more we can serve our clients well with amazing joint projects and relationships.