It happens to us all:  We get shy.  Tongue-tied.  Even be-set with laryngitis when we seek favors or advice or work.

The why is obvious.  We’re asking for something from someone we don’t know very well.  If at all.  We’re suddenly unsure of the response, or the person, or ourselves.

If we think about it, though, the art of the ask is awfully close to the art of selling.  About a year or so ago, we advocated that designers, marketers, and others who make up our profession learn how to sell, read signals, and master how to close. 

We’re changing our minds … slightly.  There’s a kinder, gentler form of sales that all of us need to get comfortable with:  substituting the ABCS (the “always be closing” acronym) with ABAs or Always Be Asking.  Requests, in our opinion, are a softer form of selling, and the most likely to be used, day in and day out, in these days of electronic everythings.

“Let’s set a date to sit and talk about your challenges.  I’ll call you … “

“Do you know Mr. Chief Client Officer at major corporation X?  I’m getting ready to meet with his staff – and would like to hear what you know about their work.”

“Would you mind being my bounce on this article?  I could truly use your feedback.”

These are specific asks.  And straightforward, no dithering allowed. 

For asks, you might also consider the quid pro quo (i.e., a give for a get) as well as the open ask.  And then be very very surprised by what you hear.

After all, what’s the worst your askee can say?