Meet Dr. Wayne Baker
Dr. Wayne Baker is the author of All You Have To Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success (Jan 14, 2020). He is the Robert P. Thome (“Toe-May”) Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, as well as Faculty Director of the Center for Positive Organizations. Wayne is a co-founder and board member of Give and Take, Inc., which develops technologies based on the principles in his new book.
Why is asking for what you need such an important skill for success?
We found that people tend to be very generous at work and in their lives and they're very well regarded for that. Most people want to be helpful and will help when they can. But they don't ask for what they need. And because they don't ask, they don't get the inflow of all the resources you need to be successful. It could be knowledge, information, referrals, ideas, contacts, Any kind of resource that you need to be productive and to do well at work.
So why is it so difficult for people to ask for what they need?
There's a couple of reasons. One is that people are concerned or they're worried that they'll appear to be incompetent, weak that they can't do their jobs. Another very common obstacle is that people figure no one can help. Many, many times I've run different events and activities using the tools in my book, and people will take me aside and say, you know, I'm not going to ask for what I really need, because I know no one could help me. And I always tell them the same thing, which is to never know what people know, or who they know. Until you ask.
What can people and teams do to build social capital?
The most important thing is to give yourself permission to ask and to realize that asking is an essential part of the equation. So if everyone wanted to be a giver, and everyone wanted to help, nothing would happen. So what we found that in the workplace is that most people are willing to help. In fact, the studies there show up to 90% of the help that is given in the workplace is in response to a request, but most people don't ask, so therefore, nothing really happens.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
Well, I think the one I would have to relate goes back a number of years. When my wife and I were coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary, I said to her, you know, what would you like to do? She said, I want to be on Emerald Live in New York City to celebrate our anniversary. I was participating in the orientation program for all of our incoming MBA students here at the Ross School of Business. I said, you know, I'm gonna take my own medicine I'm gonna make a big request and I use the "smart criteria." Like five people came forward and said, one person said, you know, I know someone who's dating Emerald's daughter and I can make an introduction for you. We were connected.
As you continue to build and grow your network and community can you share how you stay in front of over best nurture these relationships?
There's a couple of things that are important to do. One is to stay in contact, but stay in contact in a meaningful way. Look for opportunities to share something of value. It's like a little investment. I just think it's part of the importance of building a network is that you want to be an investor, you want to help other people, you want to be generous.
What advice would you offer the business professional who is looking to grow their network?
I would say it would be three parts Join. Give. Ask. So it'd be to
join a meaningful group. It could be join a LinkedIn group, or there's so many online communities. Then look for opportunities to give, you know, a few, almost every conversation, you can listen with that intention in mind. And then of course, whenever you need help, to ask for it whenever you need a resource to get your work done, to solve a problem, to ask for what your needs. So it's those three things to Join. Give. Ask.
Between digital networking and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in?
It's kind of hard to answer because I think they each have their place. Traditional networking occurs in the daily grind of our lives where we interact with and meet people. And in those encounters, we can look for ways to help. And also ask when we have a need or goal we're trying to achieve. And then the digital networking. It's a small world now it really expands our whole universe. I think they both have their place and I I kind of look for more opportunities to use digital technology as a way of investing in your network and then asking when you need something.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Now, who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the six degree?
I've always wanted to meet Bill Gates. And there are two people that I'm connected with on LinkedIn that I know know him. So that I guess would be two degrees of separation.
Can you share with our listeners what book you're reading right now? Or maybe a podcast you're listening to?
So one is that I am re-reading, Give and Take by Adam Grant. Adam was one of our PhD students from about 10-12 years ago and he is just an incredible person who has done wonderful things out there in the world. I've learned a lot from him. And then the other side is that if I have a vice it's science fiction. So I'm currently reading The Lost Colony by A.G. Riddle. It's the third in a in a series.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would say to become more active on LinkedIn. And to look for ways to find interesting things and share it or re-post it on LinkedIn.
How to connect with Wayne:
Book Website: https://allyouhavetodoisask.com/
Personal Website: https://www.waynebaker.org/