We often say that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, meaning you need to spend time cultivating relationships before you can cash in on them, rather that immediately going in for the kill. And while every relationship is different, it can often be difficult to know when is the appropriate time to ask a new connection for a favor.
So how do you know when it is an appropriate time to ask your referral partner for a favor?
A good rule of thumb is that if you have to ask if it is too soon, it probably is. Your gut can be a great guideline here, and if you feel uncomfortable asking for the favor, your connection will likely feel uncomfortable receiving (and therefore responding to) your request.
The key to strong referral relationships is to invest in your social capital prior to making a withdrawal, and to invest heavily. Before asking someone for an introduction to a new client, you should have already done the same for them without their having asked. Nobody wants to feel like someone in their circle is using them to get ahead, so be sure to show them that you can help them before requesting help in return.
Oftentimes, when you reach the point in your relationship with someone where it is appropriate to ask for favors, they’ll be offering to help you before you can ask.
Every relationship is different, so do not hold one to the same timeline or standard as another you may have. As you invest in your relationships and develop a strong mutual connection built upon trust, you’ll know when it is appropriate to ask for a favor…and when you should hold back.