It is always tough to make that call to your friend when you are in need of a help esp. if you had not managed to find time to "be in-touch" with him/her in your "non-needy" days. When we eventually call for this unavoidable favour it is typical of us not to jump on to asking the favour first. At least I tend to speak a lot about everything else first and then its the right time, I make the request. This for me looked like a rational approach as we dont want to be seen as too self centered.
However there is a flaw in this. When you eventually ask for the favour, whenever it may be – after 10 minutes or 30 minutes of the conversation, the friend might think that everything discussed till now was just to get this favour out of him/her and not out of genuine interest for the person (and some might express their displeasure to this by saying 'ahhh, thats why you called me?'). Well, this is a exactly opposite of what you wanted and there is no coming back from this situation.
However I learned a better approach from my wife today. She needed a favour from her friend and first thing she did when she called was to ask for this favour (well, after confirming that he is free to talk and in a state of mind to ask for the favour). This way, she got this primary reason for the call out of the way. Now, she started asking about those things which both of them usually discuss. Just by reversing the order, all her conversation remained genuine and relevant. With this new approach, she not only managed to get the favour across but also got "in-touch" with the friend as well.
We are in the era of "timeless times" where there is a struggle to keep in touch with all those who we want to. However the fact remains that time and again we need favours from one of those who lost touch with for a brief period (if it has been very long* then it does not make sense to ask for favour). But ideally that should not stop us from making that call and with this new approach, I feel it is lot easier for me. Hopefully for you too.