There’s a lot of advice to be had about the best ways to develop your business networks, but not much at all about the best times to take advantage of that accumulated relationship capital. But timing may matter more than most people think when reaching out to contacts for help or guidance. There might very well be an ideal time—in the calendar and on the clock—to ask for a favor, especially a professional one.
It’s worth thinking about the next time you’re looking to mine your network. On the one hand, people are generally in better spirits in the morning and on weekends, as evidenced by Cornell University researchers who analyzed sentiment on Twitter. Most of us, once we are fully awake, start off at our happiest and get grumpier as the day progresses. Intuition suggests people in a good mood are more likely to be generous—and wouldn’t you know it, research does too. (Specifically, a study by Guidestar and Network For Good shows online donations are most likely to be made between 10:00 a.m. and noon.)
Given that a request for an introduction, connection or some other nugget of relationship capital is really just a plea for generosity, it follows that asking for such help would best be done on a Saturday or Sunday around brunch time. If, however, your “friend” isn’t close enough to bother during off hours, you should hold your ask for a weekday morning. But keep in mind that when you send an email and when it gets read can be two very different moments. I have a friend who reads and responds to emails for one hour twice a day, in the early morning and before dinner. When I need a favor, I send an email the evening before.