Here’s some advice on that from Seth Godin, author of Tribes and founder of Squidoo.
At least once a day I get an email asking me for some ridiculous selfish thing that someone wants.
And then they write under it, as if it excuses them, “you can’t blame a girl for asking.” Well actually, I can. And I will.
If you ask someone to do something that’s selfish–for you–they won’t. And not only won’t they, they’ll never forgive you for asking, because you made them really uncomfortable.
The asking I’m talking about is equivalent to asking someone over for a cocktail party, asking someone to go out to dinner with you. Those are things that help both of you–not just help you.
There are lots of times someone will send me a note saying, “I’m going to be in town, can I take you out for a sandwich? I’d love to pick your brain for an hour.”
No. You can’t. I’m sorry. I don’t know you. I’m really busy. I’m not good at meetings. I hate meetings. I don’t even like sandwiches. No.
Because it’s not about me at that point, it’s about you. And I’d like to be generous, but there are too many people for everyone to be generous to.
So, when you’re asking for money for your charity. When you’re asking for a vote for your political candidate. When you’re asking for someone to spend time with you, you gotta think really hard about why they ought to do it, that has nothing to do with you.
This is an edited except from a program you can download here, on Mixergy.