When Seeking Help, Do Your Homework First And Be Specific
September 21, 2021
We all have times when we need someone to help us out of a jam. But, unfortunately, when it comes to taking help, many people have a hard time. In case you need the help of a close friend, you feel comfortable asking. But, when you don’t know the person or don’t know him well enough, you hold back. Your head is full of don’t do it thoughts.
“He barely knows me, so why would he help,” or “how can I ask her for help when I hardly know her.”
If there is something I have learned in all my adult working years, it is this- Most people like helping others, and if you need any help, almost anyone will be willing to help you. Your colleagues will be willing to help you, your CEO will be willing to help you, and that impersonal LinkedIn contact will be willing as well.
But, there is one crucial caveat.
While almost anyone will be willing to help you, no one will be willing to do your homework for you.
Let me share a personal example here. Someone I know reached out to me with a request-” My company has asked me to go. I know you have a lot of connections. If you know anyone, can you please help make a connection? Here is my resume.”
Now, this was a lazy request. The person who was seeking my help was offloading his problem to me and expecting my help. I offered my sympathies and said, “I will see what I can do.” You can all imagine what I would have done- nothing.
I got a similar request from someone else. This person, too, was let go by his firm and when he reached out to me, his request for help was very different.
” I have been let go by my company six months back. Instead of just looking for jobs desperately, I have used my time to complete three online finance certification courses and gained additional skills. I have now applied for jobs at these four firms. I know that the CEO of one of these firms is a good friend of yours. Would you please help me by doing a personal introduction and putting in a good word for me? Here is a summary of my experience and my skills.”
As you can see, there is a night and day difference between these two requests.
The first one is a lazy general request for help that required me to do the hard work. And, like anyone else, I am not going to do the essential work that the other person was not interested in putting in.
But in the second case, the person seeking my help did not come to me with an airy-fairy request. He had done his homework and come to me with a specific request. Even though I did not know him intimately, I knew he had all the necessary credentials. All it required for me to help was 30 seconds to send out a WhatsApp message to my CEO friend saying, “this is someone I know personally, and I wanted to pass on a good word. He has applied for a role in the Finance department. I can confirm that he has great credentials and will be an asset to your organization. Can you kindly convey my message as a positive reference to the recruiting manager?”
When seeking help, do the necessary homework first. As a context, emphasize the things you have already done to help yourself. Then only state what specific assistance you require from the other person.
PS: This person who reached out to me took up the offer from another firm. He is happy and thriving.