In poker you maximize your profits by doing two things: giving your opponents a reason to fold a hand that can beat you, and getting them to bet with a hand that you can beat. Good poker players don’t just leave it up to the cards – they influence the other players to affect the outcome of each hand. We can view requesting permission in a similar light. We can just knock on the door and ask for permission – leaving the “Yes” or “No” strictly to the whim of the property owner, or we can “raise the ante” by giving them good reasons to say “Yes” and feel good about saying “Yes”. We can also make it painful for them to say “No.”
Detecting for a Cause
Donating for a Cause: Find something you are interested in supporting and donate a percentage of the value of your finds to that cause. If your cause is good enough, you might even make a small flyer to help promote it. For example, my current cause is helping to pay for a new roof for my church.
Can we please have some spare change…..buried in the dirt in your yard?
History as a Cause: Do your homework. Be seen as a history buff and not a treasure hunter or a “digger”. Show off your knowledge of the history of the area. Convey how important recovering and sharing historical items that may be on their property that related to the area’s history is to you and the community.
You might share stories where you returned lost jewelry or personal artifacts such as war bring backs to another family. Give them your card. A card associated with a well-known business your work at or well-known organization is best, but always have cards, even if you just have some made up with your name, email and phone.
Sell yourself and the process. Introduce pain into their potential rejection. Simply give them enough reasons to say “Yes”, and make it much easier for them to say “Yes” than “No.”
If the landowner has children present when I ask, you might give them a couple of silver dimes or buffalo nickels that you carry with you for just such a purpose. If the owner is elderly, as many occupants of some of the very old homes are, for example, then you might notice some neglected chores that you can offer to help with. Sometimes I’ll just bring the empty garbage cans back up to the from the street if it happens to be trash day – this is a real chore for some elderly people. Keep in mind as a good person you should probably do some of these things anyway, even if permission is virtually assured.
Nice Detector, Dude!
Playing the Game Unfairly
If I suspect or anticipate a “No” in advance of the visit (ie “You can ask, but that lady never let’s anybody on her property. You’ll be lucky if she doesn’t shoot you on sight.”) then I will play downright dirty: I will bring my adorable 10-year-old daughter with me if it’s a woman I am talking to, or bring my pretty wife if I am speaking to a man. That is really not fair though, is it? Remember, like it or not, when you ask for permission, you are selling yourself in return for the landowner’s favor and trust.
Read ’em and Weep!
DIG DEEPER: For more ideas on increasing your Yes/No ratio when seeking permission, check out these articles: