How often are you asked a favor? How do you decide whether or not to extend the favor?
You probably decide based on:
- The relationship you share with this person (or organization)
- WIIFM, or: What's In It For Me?
When it comes to marketing yourself or your work—or building your career—you have to assume there is no such thing as altruism. You must always identify & convey how the other person will benefit/gain by doing what you ask.
Here's what separates the classy people from the not-so-classy: Even when you have an excellent relationship with someone, a consummate professional (and a friend, too) will always position requests or proposals so that there's a gain for everyone.
Successful people have an excellent way of involving—early on—others who can have an impact on their success, and making them feel special, included, and benefited in some way—which results in future favors (or offers) when none have been requested.
An example of what I mean:
Let's say you run a blog where you interview authors or review their books. If your recommendations carry weight in your community, and you highly and repeatedly recommend a certain author or book, you're offering support and publicity without being asked.
If the author notices and conveys gratitude (which they should), they will likely get in touch with you, and possibly open the door to a relationship or future requests.
But: Even if not, later on, you'll be much better positioned to ask this author for a cover blurb, or a referral, or some other favor in the future, assuming it's a good fit. (Sometimes these things are ALL about fit, or timing.)
In the burgeoning social media community, the simple tenet of WIIFM can be forgotten. And as a result, you get a lot of people bashing social media.
So, never forget that relationship building comes BEFORE favor asking. And there has to be a much bigger and better WIIFM when you approach people cold, without a solid relationship.
That said, sometimes people will offer favors if they are charmed by you, or like you, or are just in a good mood. But given how overwhelmed most people are these days, they usually appreciate and respond well to clear propositions with a straightforward action attached—and a benefit. Otherwise, you just become part of the noise.
P.S. This is why I hate press releases. There's never anything in it for me. They're not even addressed to me. The press release is dead, unless you can follow-up like a pro, or have a relationship to draw upon—in which case, why send a press release?