Save Your Asks, Build Your Network, Create Connection!

IRI Podcast Episode on Business Networking

As HR professionals, so much of our job is about creating connection: connections within and without our organizations, reaching out and nurturing the development of relationships between candidates and departments, with leadership, between employees and with our colleagues within the Human Resources community. This episode is about business networking – and if those two words evoke nothing but awkward conversations in drab convention hall lobbies, you’ll want to listen to this episode. Today's guest is Chris Tuff, the EVP and Executive Director of Partnerships & Growth for 22Squared and two-time author. His latest book is Save Your Asks: Evolve Your Networking Currencies, Grow Your Influence, Triple Your Business. Here, he explains:

  • How the transactional nature of traditional networking misses the point;
  • Why curiosity is the key to connection;
  • The difference between a "People Pleaser" and an "Askhole"; and
  • The importance of "Saving Your Asks"!

If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


The Millennial Whisperer

  • Mr. Tuff is the author of the 2019 book, The Millennial Whisperer which has since become a bestselling book. Within 8 months of the book’s release, he was doing engagement deals with companies like Nike and reaching his goals.
  • The book largely focuses on genuine connection and leadership, and he wanted to be able to carry that into his work and make an immediate impact on top line growth.
  • Since the release, he’s been focusing on creating a network around connection and making a difference. 


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Networking and Connection

  • Networking is necessary to reach the next step, and this is true at all levels of business networking.
    • Business networking is most successful when the goal is to create long term, genuine connections with people.
    • It is also important to have resilience and not give up on reaching professional and networking goals.
  • Networking and networking events typically present as a give-and-take scenario where each party gets something out of the exchange, rather than a process of developing genuine connections, which should be the goal.
  • Curiosity is the difference between connecting and networking by finding a common point of passion
  • It is important to conduct research before business networking events. This research allows you to find a few, select people to focus on forming a genuine, deeper connection with, rather than engaging in a multitude of surface level conversations.
  • “Every single interaction in your day should be treated like as a networking event”

Connecting Yourself and Your Currency

  • Your currency is what you get paid to do, and it is important to bring up whatever your “currency” is into networking in business. 
    • No one should be totally reliant on their currency to network, but it can be used to find common points of passion with the other person.
  • You can find things to talk about with people in any aspect of life, even small things like your family or the last game, because it’s just another thing to establish a connection.
    • However, getting to the root of their passions, asking them about what inspires them and gets them out of bed in the morning is where real networking and connection flows.
  • Successful networking in business is a very human, natural connection, so an automated LinkedIn pitch is not the answer, and takes away the exchange and connection elements of networking.

Engaging with Connections

  • It’s suggested that those seeking to form connections aim for  5 business connections per sales cycle, to create and deepen connections.
  • “Shawshanking” refers to the process of being persistent about deepening connections with acquaintances that could prove to be mutually beneficial.

Asking Your Ask

  • “Askholes” are people who have no problem “asking their ask” and often go in for the ask way too early and/or too often. On the other end of the spectrum, are “people pleasers” who are uncomfortable with the exchange and often let asks pass them by.
  • “Saving your asks” until an appropriate time, preferably well after a connection has been established and a relationship has been created, should be the goal.
  • Masking Your Asking Your Dream is a tactic Mr. Tuff formulated for people on the people-pleasing side of the spectrum. He decided to test this concept out when he was conducting interviews for his book by asking his interview subject not for his “Ask”, but for recommendations of another top person he should network with. 
    • Testing this theory led him to meet new people that he never would have met and made connections with otherwise.
  • It’s also recommended to reach out via video message or call, rather than just sending text messages to deepen the connection and experience. 

Maintaining Connection

  • Creating relationships is easy, but sustaining them can be challenging. 
  • Reaching out to someone you haven’t interacted with in the last few months can have a great impact and lead to greater opportunities down the line.

The Inspiration Behind Save Your Asks

  • Mr. Tuff is on a mission to change the world by bringing more connection to it.
  • Coming out of the pandemic, we are in a deficit of genuine connection, and this is the opportunity to change that and ask questions with purpose.
  • You can bring your passion into your business as a way of prioritizing it in your life.

Chris Tuff Background

  • BS in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University
  • Began career as a Copywriter (and then Founder and Trendspotter/Sunao Department) at Moxie Interactive
  • Served as Founder/Chief Marketing Officer for Sneaky Sunday LLC
  • Currently serves as the EVP, Executive Director of Partnerships & Growth at 22squared



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