Before we begin, it’s helpful to start by defining the difference between asking and begging. According to The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People
by Amanda Palmer, the author explains that:
Asking is a reciprocal act and can only take place when there’s mutual respect between the parties. On the other hand, begging is demanding something without giving the other person the option to deny your demand. In short, begging is a one-way street.
For this reason, truly asking must be unconditional. This is what the author realized when she gave people flowers in exchange for money, only to see many viewers refuse her gifts or give them back. It was only when the author began handing out her gifts unconditionally, meaning people were free to take them or return them, that she became comfortable with either response.
But giving others the option to turn down your request and accepting the painful sting of “no” can be difficult. So, the next time you’re sad when someone denies your request, remember that giving the other person the option to turn it down is what really counts.
So, making your requests unconditional is one key to truly asking. Another is to ask within your community. Here’s how:
First off, be sure to ask the right people. The author built strong ties within her community by dedicating a lot of time to her family, friends and fans. She developed a network of people who trust her by keeping in touch via email and other forms of communication.
Knowing who you can ask for favors is essential when asking within your community, but equally important is knowing how to reciprocate the generosity of others. On one occasion, despite her busy schedule, the author visited a sick fan who was having a difficult time in the hospital. The two went on to become good friends.
In another instance of reciprocity, the author offered her support to a fan struggling with suicidal thoughts. The author corresponded with the fan regularly and even took the time to go on a walk with her after a show. The author was so invested in her, that she even enlisted other fans to help her through this difficult time.
By making it a priority to personally engage with her fans, the author earned their trust and developed a strong, supportive community.
You might be wondering how the author was so successful at building a loyal group of followers. One key was that she focused on making friends, not customers.The golden mailing list was her first crowdsourcing tool and she used it to organize every detail of the band’s shows. At the time, email was a relatively new form of communication, but the author used it to do everything from announcing gigs, to finding couches to crash on, to supporting the shows of various other musicians and artists.
Another key to the author’s success with building a group of followers was to never sell out her friends. Realizing that she couldn’t trust the label with her fans, the author denied her managers access to the golden mailing list, knowing that they would use it for purely commercial purposes, like selling merchandise.
Organizing crowds has come a long way since the author first used her golden mailing list to secure sofas to sleep on. And while crowdsurfing is excellent fun, crowdsourcing can actually be an excellent means for gathering information and fundraising. The best part? It’s easily organized using social media.
Later in her career, when the author was working as a solo musician, her husband introduced her to Twitter. The site quickly became one of the author’s favorite modes of communication and she uses it frequently to keep in touch with people around the world.
But in addition to fostering global communication, Twitter became the author’s number one tool for crowdsourcing. When she’s on the road, she uses the site to seek advice on everything from song lyrics to illnesses. For instance, she once tweeted a photo of a red rash on her thigh thinking it was just a bug bite. Luckily, her Twitter followers informed her that it could be a dangerous staph infection, and they turned out to be right!
But crowdsourcing is good for more than diagnosing rashes. It’s easy to crowdfund if you’ve built your crowd the right way.
The key to the author’s success? By constantly communicating with fans, she had built such a tight-knit, trusting community around her that the money practically raised itself. When other artists experience less success with crowdfunding, it’s not necessarily because they aren’t talented, but rather because they lack the social aptitude necessary to connect with people in a deeper way.
Instead of demanding help from others, accept assistance when it’s offered. By building a closely-knit network based on personal communication, honesty and trust, you can ensure you’ll always have a supportive community to rely on.
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