Are You an Askhole?

If you hear, “Can I buy you a cup of coffee or a drink?” – you may be talking with an askhole.  Or, if you hear, “Can you introduce me to ___?” – you may be talking with an askhole. Or, if you hear, “Can I pick your brain?”- you may be talking with an askhole. If you listen carefully, I bet you’ll hear one of these phrases today, and chances are that you’ve said one of these lines as some point (I know I have). Hopefully after you read this, you’ll think about it a bit differently going forward. 
I became aware of the term “askhole” in an outstanding article in the June 2013 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine titled “Don’t be an askhole.” “Askholers” are defined as people who are takers – and they don’t even realize (or care) that they’re doing it. 
The challenge with statements like these is that you are actually asking a lot from your colleagues. You are effectively asking them take an hour or so away from their business and to help yours when you offer to buy them a cup of coffee or a drink.  If you ask me for an introduction to someone in my network, you better already have a strong relationship with me, otherwise it ain’t gonna happen – because I can’t afford to risk my reputation by introducing a schmuck. And if you want to pick my brain, I hear it as “unpaid consulting.” 
I used the term in the opening of “… may be an askhole” very much by design. If you make it a habit of constantly “taking” from others without reciprocating in some way, you’ll quickly find yourself out of the proverbial loop. If you live by the philosophy of “Givers Gain,” which is at the core of BNI and usually at the core of all of the best business people, and you seek ways to help those who have helped you (in some way), you will not become an askhole. When people see you as a one-way street, always taking and never giving (or at the very least, genuinely seeking to give), they’ll will stop wanting to even be around you. 
If you ask someone to grab a cup of coffee or a drink, be sure to establish the expectations up front of why you’d like to meet, promise to take less than 30 minutes of their time, and after the meeting send them a nice note with a $10 gift card to their favorite coffee house as a thank you (PS: This is one of the key ways I use Send Out Cards in my Relationship Appreciation System). If you ask for an introduction, only make such a request from someone in your network with whom you’ve already built a strong, reciprocal connection. If you ask someone to pick their brain, and you truly want to learn “how” and are looking for actionable advice, expect to pay for their expertise – drinks and a meal aren’t fair pay for consulting … someone who is worth your request charges for their expertise and experience.  
No one likes a taker.
It is far too easy, especially in today’s world of unfettered access to everyone, 24-7, thanks to misuse of tools like the internet, email, and cell phones, to devalue time and effort. My time and effort … your time and effort … are incredibly valuable resources, guard them like a hawk. When you ask me to take my time to have a cup of coffee, to open myself up to introduce you to one of my valuable connections, or let you tap into my gray matter to give you my how-to on an idea, I don’t take it lightly. It IS a big deal. Don’t be an askhole.

About Mark Deutsch

Small Business Sales & Marketing Expert | Best Selling Author | Speaker | Trainer | Disruptive Idea Creator
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4 Responses to Are You an Askhole?

  1. Lynn Bossi-Kinsel says:

    Great post!

  2. BeckyBlanton says:

    I love this! I don’t mind being generous. It helped me build the business I have today. I still give freely and graciously, but NOT to people who don’t reciprocate and always take, take, take. I’ve sent a lot of business to another couple of creatives over the past years, answered a lot of questions and found them good clients and work, yet I’ve rarely or NEVER heard a simple thank you, let alone seen any reciprocity. Excellent article! No, you can’t pick my brain…unless you’re letting me pick yours equally.

  3. Jim says:

    I bought the June, 2013 issue of Entrepreneur magazine just the other day. I thought the “Askhole” article was great. I have had experiences with these people and that article helped me get a better perspective of what was really going on with the “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” BS.
    As a graphic designer, I am all too willing to help people who want to learn the Adobe CS programs. But there has to be some appreciation for my time, knowledge and expertise. A cup of coffee here and $20 bucks there is not reasonable compensation. Oh well – live and learn.

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