The Art of Sucking Up

Guy Kawasaki: There is an art to sucking up. Done too blatantly it will backfire. Done too weakly, you won’t get what you want. The perfect suck up contains the following elements:

The Art of Sucking Up

  • Credibility. No matter how good your suck up, if you don’t meet the requirements for placement, a job, an interview, whatever, it won’t matter, so you need to show why you deserve what you’re asking for.
  • Empathy. Who can resist a little play on emotion? “Please help me…we’re just a little company trying to make a go of it.” Actually, I’ll tell you who can resist this: buttheads that aren’t worth sucking up to.
  • Utility. The best suck-ups are mutually beneficial. You are not only getting something, you are also providing something of value. Or, if you’re in no position to do it right away, that you will provide something of value in the future. Great suck-ups are always a win-win situation.
  • Gratitude. If you’re trying to a better position, express gratitude for where you already are–for example, if you want something better, begin by expressing gratitude for what you already have. This works much better than acting pissed off and wronged. Confrontion is not part of the art of sucking up.
  • Obligation. According to The Man, Robert Cialdini, if someone does something for you, you’re pretty much compelled to do something in return. For example, if you’ve already done something useful for me, how can I resist doing something for you?
  • Flattery. You might think that this is the most important element in a suck up, but it isn’t. This is because most of the people you’ll be sucking up to are frequently flattered (deserved or not), so don’t make this a central part of your pitch. One sentence at the beginning is enough, then focus on credible reasons why the person should help you.

Here is an example of a great suck-up. It was in response to this question in the About Alltop FAQ:

Q. How, as a site owner, do I get my site (or blog) moved up the page?
A. Send us a persuasive email . FYI, telling your readers about Alltop and blogrolling is particularly persuasive.

Via Guy Kawasaki