Small Asks First

When you send an email, what type of ask are you making?

The quality and quantity of people who reply to your emails — outreach or otherwise — will be dramatically different depending on the type of ask you’re making.

Small Asks vs Big Asks

Small asks are small things. Answering a question or two in an email.

Big asks are big things. Having a phone call. Meeting.

When you’re writing your emails, are you considering the type of ask that you’re making?

If you’re emailing a (relative) stranger, than you want to focus on small asks. Work your way up to bigger asks. I’ve seen many a potential relationship destroyed because someone made too big of an ask early on.

If you’re emailing someone you have an established relationship with (a client, a friend, a colleague, etc.), then you can make bigger asks, depending on the strength of the relationship.

Too often people start with “Can we have a quick 30-minute call?” and it’s easy to assume that’s a small ask, but if you’re emailing busy people, it’s a big ask.

Smaller asks are better. Ask one thing. Ask for it in the form of a reply. If you have 2-3 questions, ask them over email instead of requiring a phone call.

You’re sending emails to build relationships, which is why it makes sense to go for the phone call. But you need to take it slow. Small asks first.

How big is an ask?

These are the rules that I follow.

  • Tiny Ask — Email response, 1 or 2 simple questions in a short email
  • Small Ask — Email response, 3-5 questions in a longer email
  • Medium Ask — 15 minute phone call
  • Large Ask — 30 minute phone call
  • Huge Ask — In person meeting

Start with the smaller asks. As your relationship builds, start using bigger asks.