You want to spread the news about your ministry–whether it’s getting the word out about a new book you have launching, or getting some new speaking engagements. And last week we talked about how to identify people in your network that you can ask for help.
But let’s face it: even if you know who those important people are, it’s still awkward, like asking all your friends to a Tupperware party.
What I’ve found, though, is that if you make it easy to help, people are more than willing to do so. You just need to make it really simple! Here are 5 things you can ask people to do relatively painlessly:
1. Ask them to Tweet something for you.
In your initial email to them, ask if they would mind tweeting something out to their audience. But don’t make your email long; people who get dozens or hundreds of emails a day don’t want to read a long one from you. If you send a simple, “My book’s launching next week, and I would so appreciate it if you would tweet one the tweets below for me”, most people will.
The key? Send pre-written tweets. Don’t make them write their own tweet. Make it cut and paste.
Write 3-5 tweets that they can send, and make them all interesting, fun, and most of all–under 140 characters. Test your tweets first! Put the URLs in an make sure they fit. And then you’re all set to go!
What not to do: I’ve had people write to me and say, “can you tweet about my new book?”, when I know nothing about their new book and don’t want to take the time to research it and write a good tweet. So I don’t do it. But if someone sends me pre-made tweets, and I know the person, it’s easy to put up!
2. Ask them to add something to Facebook for you
Have a contest you’re running? A series of blog posts you’re writing leading up to your book release? A speaking tour you’d like to plan? You can ask someone with a large Facebook following to post for you.
In your email, include the body of what you want the Facebook post to say, and then a link. If you’re trying to get traffic for your blog or people to buy your book, you should already have a natural page to link to. If you want to plan a speaking tour in Texas, for instance, set up a special page just for that tour, with the dates you’re going, the different talks you can give, and links to testimonials and contact info. Don’t just include the URL for your speaker’s website in general; create a page just for the tour. It works better!
Make sure that whatever URL you ask to have shared has a good graphic that will look nice on Facebook (test it out on Facebook yourself first by putting the URL in an update and see what Facebook does to it).
What not to do: Don’t write too much. Facebook doesn’t have a word count like Twitter does in the same way, but I’ve had people ask me to post something which is a few paragraphs long. That’s out of the ordinary and looks strange in my news feed, so I don’t do it. Make it simple, and keep it short!
3. Ask for an introduction
Want to get booked on a particular radio program, or contact the women’s ministry director of a church? You’re more likely to be considered if you’re introduced by a mutual acquaintance.
What you want is an introduction something like this: “Jane Doe is a great speaker and I wanted to let you know about her tour”, or “Jane Doe is really funny on her feet and I think she’d be great on radio.”
However, your friend or acquaintance may not understand what you’re asking unless you’re very direct. Simply ask: Can you write an email addressed to Big Important Person, and cc’ed to me, with an introduction mentioning:
- that I’m good on the radio
- that I’m funny
- that I speak well
- that I know my Bible
- that you loved my book
- that I write great guest posts
- that I am a long time personal friend
Whatever specific thing you want emphasized, make sure you let them know! Again, the clearer you are in the email, the more likely it will get done. I find that people are often vague because they don’t want to appear rude. But if you don’t ask specifically, then people have to guess, and guessing takes time. For someone who is likely going through 20 or 30 emails at a time, having something that’s super easy to do is far more likely to actually get done!
4. Ask to write a guest post
Guest posts are one of the most useful ways to get known on the internet. First, they let a whole new audience hear your words and get to know your heart; but second, they give you links back to your website which will boost your search engine credentials. Whether you’re a speaker or a writer, guest posts can be invaluable.
When you ask to write a guest post, make sure you understand the blog you want to write for. Most large blogs post guest post submission guidelines; follow them, even if the blog owner is your best friend. Make sure your guest post is relevant to the blog and not just trying to advertise your speaking or your writing. Remember, you’ll get a chance in the little “bio box” at the bottom of the guest post to talk about yourself; make the body of the guest post actually interesting to the audience, and in line with what the blog readers are expecting. For instance, my blog talks almost exclusively about marriage and parenting from a Christian perspective, but I get a ton of guest posts about decorating. It’s not that my audience doesn’t like decorating; they likely do. But that’s not what they come to my blog for. Similarly, I get a ton of guest posts from women who have just released Christian living books talking about how to grow closer to God. Again, that is something my audience is interested in, but I mostly talk about relationships. If you can put a relationship slant on it (growing closer to God as a couple; keeping God in your parenting) that would go over much better.
Have the guest post ready when you email; don’t email saying, “can I guest post?” If they accept guest posts, then that’s just an extra email they don’t need.
What not to do: Don’t write saying, “what would you like me to write about?” That makes the blog owner have to think, and the blog owner, even if they’re a close friend, doesn’t know your expertise that well. Instead, you suggest 2-3 topics and let them choose, or else just submit a post right off the bat. You do the thinking; study the blog, come up with something relevant, and send it in.
5. Ask for an endorsement
This last one is the trickiest category, because it does require something from the person. Maybe you need an endorsement for your speaking, or maybe you’d like them to endorse your book. Perhaps your book is already written and you’d like them to post a review on Amazon or on their blog. All of these things require that the person write something (the endorsement and review) and that they read something (in the case of a book review/endorsement).
To make it easier for someone to write an endorsement, summarize the book and provide 1-2 chapters, offering to provide more if they would like them. That way the person knows they don’t have to read the whole thing. If you want a review, ask first if the person is willing to read the book. Another option, though, is to offer to do a Q&A instead of a book review, because then you can write most of it. You can say,
“I know your time is limited and you may not have time to read the book, but here are the main themes. I’d be happy to prepare a Q&A on the themes that match with your blog’s topic (specifically X and Y). If you would like to prepare the questions, I’d be happy to answer them; but I can also prepare the whole Q&A if it’s easier for you.”
Again, that takes away the bulk of the work from the blog owner and makes it more likely that they will agree.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Help: Keep it Simple!
I’m on both sides of this relationship: on the one hand, I have to get the word out about my speaking tours and my books, and on the other, I have a large blog that other people want to post on.
I know it’s horrible to have to write people and ask for help, but I also know how often I give it–and when I’m most likely to give it.
So remember: keep it simple. Ask directly for what you need, and make sure the person has to do as little as possible. Make it easy for them to help, with a minimum of thought or hassle, and it’s more likely they’ll agree!
Don’t be scared; most people want to help. We just don’t have much time. Take away the hassle factor, and you may find it’s a lot more painless to get the word out than you thought!
Next: I think I want to tackle how to write a great guest post in more detail. But if there’s something else you’d like to know about, leave it in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, you may like my audio download, Treating Speaking Like a Business, which includes information on networking.