Entrepreneur Educator, Program Developer, Facilitator

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The Ask And Offer

A killer move to help yourself, help others, and create stronger connections.

Imagine you attend a random meetup or an informal gathering. It is incredibly likely that there are people in attendance who have knowledge and wisdom that would benefit you.

It could be that your garbage disposal stopped working and you need a good handyman. It could be that you are an operations consultant for small businesses and you need more clients. It could be that you are ten years deep into a career and you feel no closer to your true calling than when you started.

Someone in that room could help. Knowing that fact—yet being unable to know which individual is the one that could help me—used to drive me crazy.

If only it was this easy

I wish the person organizing the event had run a 15 minute exercise called the ask and offer.

The instructions are dead simple:

  1. Go around the room and have everyone briefly introduce themselves, make an ask (“anybody have any experience with [x]?”), and offer up their expertise (“I am skilled at [y] if anyone needs help with that”).
  2. Let people mingle and chat with people they want to help or receive help from.

Why Ask and Offer Works

The obvious upside is the matchmaking piece: if your ask is that you want to get better at public speaking and someone in the room is an expert public speaker, they might just approach you and offer some advice.

But after running this exercise a few times, I noticed a positive externality: Humans have a deep-seated need to be useful and it feels good when we share our knowledge with others. When someone says they need help with something you are skilled at, it reminds you that you have valuable skills. And who doesn’t like feeling more valuable?

Another side effect of this process is that it creates more group cohesion. When people in a group start helping each other, the group is taking the first steps towards a community. And communities, buzzword that they are, are powerful.

Finally, it is also worth reminding ourselves that despite humans being social creatures, many are terrified at socializing. This simple exercise offers some scaffolding to guide the interaction, which more people than you know find wildly reassuring.

The next time you are responsible for running a meeting, a meet up, or a group activity, consider running a quick ask and offer.

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