"Ask and you shall receive."

If only it were that easy. For some reason, I've noticed an odd trend lately. It seems that people are spending a lot of time offering advice and sharing knowledge publicly, yet they are not asking for anything in return.

With social media being the hot ticket item and social-networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube making it easy to share, everyone is doing so. Even those of us in the email-marketing world are talking about ways to use social networks to share (Blue Sky Factory did via a recent email-marketing webinar).

Before the comments section gets flooded with "What's wrong with sharing?" thoughts, let me be clear: I am 100% in favor of sharing. I share both personal and professional content all day long. In fact, I advocate that our clients, prospects, and fans share.

However, let's not forget the power of asking. It's OK to ask for something in return. That ask does not have to happen immediately, but don't be afraid to do it eventually.

There is a place for altruism, for sure, but remember that companies exist only if they are making money. In the end—from a business perspective—if you are not growing the company, you won't be around too long.

I believe that people struggle with asking for favors because it feels a lot like sales. However, we all are (or should be) in sales. Every person in your organization should be selling at some level. Where asking breaks down is that we forget that we earn the right to ask.

Let's take a look at a few examples of how we earn that right.

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DJ Waldow is an email marketing consultant, writer, blogger, speaker, founder and CEO of Waldow Social, and co-author of The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing.

Twitter: @djwaldow

LinkedIn: DJ Waldow