Computer Mouse and Gift BagsDuring the holidays I am often filled with the joy of the season, except when faced with obnoxious shoppers, rude drivers and unhelpful sales people. If you have been here for a while, you know that I am quite Grinchy at times. I do not always focus on the positives, nor do I always tell everyone “good job.” In fact, I feel very comfortable being snarky. I know it is not my best quality, but it is a side of me. Most of the time, my snark is humorous, so I hope that it is taken lightly.

Recently, I’ve found yet another reason to be Grinchy. The social media “ask” seems to be at an all time high going into the holidays and it makes me feel about as warm and fuzzy as I feel when watching a toddler have a meltdown in the middle of the toy isle.

What is it about social media that makes people feel so comfortable about asking for free services?

My in box is filled with requests to give, share, comment, recommend and contribute, but these are not from non-profit or service groups – they’re from business people who are asking me to help them make more money.

I actually received this communication [edited because although I’m a Grinch, I’m not such a witch as to call this ding-dong out publicly]:

Hi. Happy Holidays. ‘Tis the season for giving and I’d like to ask you for a gift. We’ve never met and you have no idea who I am, but would you please recommend my Mediocre Product to all of your friends and followers so that I can make my goal of selling a gazillion of these by the end of the year? Thanks. Sincerely, Just A. Dolt

Now, this was an especially clueless approach, but I receive requests like this (subtler, thank goodness) all the time. What I find odd is that they seem to come from people who have never engaged with me online, don’t follow me or connect with me, and have never commented, recommended or shared any of my ramblings. Yes, I have great online friends and contacts who provide great content and services that I would love to share. They know who they are because we have an ongoing relationship and I share their stuff all the time. We might not talk, tweet or chat daily, but we “know” each other.

Everyone has the crazy neighbor who comes over every other day to borrow something, but at least that guy lives within walking distance of your house. Random strangers asking me to help them move product or gain attention are just as greedy as the toddler having a hissy-fit over the toys at the store. The difference is that the kid is probably crying because their parent said “No” and will eventually grow into a more thoughtful human being.

Social media moochers – especially the ones who use the holidays as  a reason to ask – are a doomed lot. They’re big enough to know better, but either don’t care or don’t understand. I know a lot of business people have taken sales courses (or read a blog) that pushes the idea of ‘The Ask,’ but I think we have gotten carried away with it. Yes, if you’re in a sales meeting, by all means ask for the sale.

In the meantime, please try to remember, this is the season for giving, not asking. Rein in your own desires and goals to take a moment to look around and see how you can help. Maybe the person who you’re asking to be your unpaid sales force is about to lose their business and along with it their ability to support their family.

Besides, Grandma always said giving is far better than receiving. So, what are you giving this season? Me? Free advice and lots of warm wishes for a happy holiday. May the gift of giving be with you through the season and always. Let’s talk soon. ~ Jules

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to Ask, Ask, Ask?

  1. Requests for services are the best, right? When accompanied by a paid invoice and statement of work. In that order. I volunteer with the best of them but not products and services I know the requester can’t do themselves. I always use the “would you do this at (retail store x)? No one (excepting thieves and amoral misanthropes) walks into Target and asks for anything free; the fee-for-product relationship is understood when you enter the store. Our white collar world is a bit softer and more amorphous but the principle holds. We provide services, we expect and are due compensation.

    Thanks for this. Enjoy your holiday.

    1. Yes, I agree. I think the social media shield allows people’s imaginations to run wild to the point that they say and do things online that they would never do online.

      Thanks for being here. The merriest of holidays to you!

      PS. Eventually, I will rein in my evil fantasies of reigning. 🙂

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