We tend to think people can read our minds, or that it’s impolite to ask for something, and we end up missing out as a result. Getting ahead requires boldness.

Having said that, you can’t be bold unless you have absolute clarity about who you are, what you want to achieve and how you need to get there.

Great networkers are people who understand the principle of abundance – giving before they seek to receive. They also tend to have a well-crafted elevator pitch at the ready when opportunity comes knocking.

But what really makes successful networkers great at connecting with others is not that they have studied the principles of networking so much as the fact that people simply enjoy engaging with them. Yes – that’s the number one characteristic of brilliant networkers – they are likeable.

I often ask people I’m helping to build their personal brands this question: “Do you know what your next job position is, and based on that, have you started to develop relationships with key people to ensure you get the position you desire?”

People who have specific goals in mind are more likely to achieve in business than those who wait for something to happen to them without taking an active part of that process.

In my experience, people who get ahead not only know what they need to get ahead, but invariably they learn to ask for it too.

I believe there is always a way to ask for something in a manner that makes people want to help you, because for the most part people actually do want to help others. Whether it’s getting ahead in your career or acquiring referral business, the best way to get what you want is to ask for it. Nicely.

For example, if I’d like a testimonial from a client, I explain that one of the ways I build my personal brand is through testimonials. Then I’ll say, “Would you mind taking some time to write a few sentences on how you have experienced my personal brand through this project?”

Generally people are more than happy to do it, and I’ve collected fantastic testimonials over the years – not because people suddenly decided to write them unasked, but because I politely asked them to.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I ask?” Often, the worst that could happen is the person could say “no”, in which case you haven’t lost anything anyway.

Remember it really makes no sense to think that other people know what you are thinking. Don’t hint, just ask. You never know what opportunities will open up for you if you do.

About Donna Rachelson

Donna is a branding and marketing specialist who uses her passion and 25 years of experience in strategy, marketing and change management to empower people and teams to achieve breakthrough results. She is also author of the best-selling book Branding & Marketing YOU, the first South African-based personal branding and marketing book, and her newly released second book, Branding & Marketing You Through Teams.

Branding and Marketing You Through Teams is available in bookstores, on Amazon.com and Kalahari.com as an e-book, and directly from brandingandmarketingyou.co.za. The recommended retail price is R230, ISBN Number 978-0-620-57789-2. For more information visit brandingandmarketingyou.com.