As you grow your network and meet more entrepreneurial people, you’re going to start receiving requests from friends/colleagues to share stuff with your network/audience.
It might be a blog, video, podcast, product, service, webinar, course, or book they’re asking your help to get the word out. Or they’re asking you to interview them in front of your audience.
Most people respond in one of 2 easy ways:
- Just be the nice guy/gal and share it on your social media, tagging your friend or colleague so they see that you’ve done this… even though you haven’t taken the time to look into the thing they want you to share and you don’t know whether you’re honestly excited to share it with your audience. You’re simply obliging your friend.
- Or maybe you care so much about your relationship with your audience that you don’t feel right just sharing something (even “just” on social media) without being able to personally endorse it… and yet, you don’t want to reject your friend. You don’t know how to say “no” nicely, so you just don’t respond. It’s +1 for awkwardness in the relationship.
It doesn’t have to be either/or — you either care about your friend, or you care about your audience.
It can be both.
Be honest and caring with your friends/colleagues who ask you to share something, and at the same time be in right relationship with your audience/network, and actually vet the thing to decide whether you’re excited to share it.
Step 1: First of all, does the request even deserve a response?
It depends on how customized the request is for you & your audience… and how much you care about that relationship.
Let’s start with requests from people you don’t know:
For example, a request from a stranger that seems like a mass message sent to many people? That doesn’t deserve a response, and they’re not even expecting most of their recipients to respond. It’s basically spam.
Or maybe they only took enough time to look at your website for a few seconds and they use your name and one or two easy pieces of customized info (e.g. “Hi George, I notice you have an audience of _____ and I think they’ll love this.”)
In this case, it deserves a similar response: take a 30 second look at their website and ask yourself whether you might want further contact with this person/company. If so, respond. If not, ignore the request or say “Thanks for reaching out, but I’m not interested” and if they bug you again, you can ask them to remove you from their distribution list.
If, however, the stranger has taken a lot of time to look at your website or content (or maybe they’ve commented thoughtfully on several of your posts), and they customized their request to you thoughtfully, then I think it deserves a thoughtful response in return. See the steps below.
How about requests from friends/colleagues/clients:
If you care about that relationship, their request deserves a response, even if it is mass-email:
“Hey friends! (or even if they mail-merge with my name, Hey George) I’m excited to be launching XYZ and would love your help to get the word out… here’s what it’s about…”
Now you might not actually care much about that relationship… if so, a mass-message request might not deserve a response.
Or maybe you do care about the relationship but you feel turned off by the way they are asking you. If so, ask them if they’d be open to feedback on how the request landed for you, and if so, honestly share it, as kindly as you can.
If you care about the relationship (even with a mass request) or the request was thoughtful, move onto the next steps…
Step 2: The initial response
Most overwhelmed people don’t even respond.
By doing this simple step, you will show extra courtesy.
If they’re asking you whether you might be willing to share something:
Sure, go ahead and send it to me, and I’ll take a look and will share it as appropriate!
If they went ahead and sent the thing to you:
Congrats on launching this, ____[their name]___! I will take a look, and share with individuals or in places that are most appropriate for my audience.
Step 3: After you’ve looked at it, how to respond
If you care about the relationship, or otherwise want to honor a very thoughtful request, then take the care to actually look at what they want you to spread the word about.
Read the blog post, watch some part of the video, listen to the episode, read some parts of the book, etc.
- Then check in with your gut — are you excited to share this with your audience?
- And imagine one of your typical audience members: Would it make sense to them to see you share this thing?
If yes to both, then go ahead and share it!
If you’re excited to share it, but it wouldn’t make sense for you to share publicly e.g. on social media, then take an extra few minutes to look at your contact list and send it onto 2–3 people for whom this thing might really help. And then reply to your requester letting them know that you’ve done this, and will continue to share it with other people for whom you feel it’s right.
What if you’re *not* excited to share it…
- Do you think they could improve it without much effort, e.g. fix some typos, so that you’d be excited to share it? If so, ask if they’d be open to suggestions that might allow you to share it with your network.
- What if you think it would take them too much effort to change it to your standards (e.g. They recorded a whole podcast episode and they’re probably not going to re-record it for you… or they just published a book! and they’re not going to rewrite it to please you)?
Then you can either not respond again — those who are savvy with etiquette will read between the lines and know that it didn’t excite you to share it. That’s ok, at least you made an effort and took a look at their thing.
Or, if you really think there’s something else they have created that you’d be excited to share, and would be appropriate for your relationship to your audience, then take the additional care and time to look at their website, or their social media posts, and share the thing that you’re genuinely excited to share. Let them know:
“The original offer didn’t feel right for me to share with my audience… but I was excited to share [something else] instead on [my Facebook, etc.] and I do hope that it helps your overall visibility and might spill over into [this launch]!”
Have you had friends ask you to spread the word about something? Would my recommendations above help?
Do you have messages you’ve sent to a friend in response to their request, that you’d be open to sharing? I’d love to see additional examples. I’m sure it will be helpful for other readers too.
Of course, since this is a totally uncustomized mass-request, it would also be appropriate not to respond ;-)