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Asking for Help Efficiently

I can honestly say that I was almost never refused help. That is solely because I almost never asked for help. Yes, I used to be that person who never wanted to be a burden and quite frankly I did not handle being told ''no'' very well (acknowledging it was the first step!).

Professionally, the biggest roadblock, for me, was psychological. I had the feeling that asking for help implied lack of competencies or innovative thinking and I never wanted to come across as subpar.

Looking back, I realize that I was worried about what others might think and that, in itself, was problematic. Not only would I never be able to control that but, most importantly, I was doing myself a disservice.

When it comes to running a business you will be required to seek outside or additional expertise and knowledge on more than one account. If this turns out to be a paid opportunity, the situation is usually easier. But If you are asking for help, a favor, or any assistance that will not be compensated in return, it can feel daunting. Here is what how you can efficiently tackle this.

  • Be clear

Be sure to explain in detail the nature of the favor: what the expected outcome is and your preferred approach.

Providing as much clarity as possible will help both parties assess the needs and come to an understanding. This includes setting a reasonable due date. Keep in mind that many people are already working with tight deadlines and multiple meetings planned weeks in advance.

  • Explain why you are seeking out their help

It is important to mention why you are purposely reaching out to them. Personalize your request by expressing that you value their knowledge and skills.

  • Outline what you have done to help yourself

Demonstrating the steps you have taken to get the job done or to seek out the most competent resource shows your professionalism. Remember that we are always more inclined to help those who put in an effort.

  • Show gratitude

Never take for granted people who give their time and skills away. Take the opportunity to reiterate your gratitude and willingness to return the favor in the future.

  • Follow-up

Do not forget to connect with them to share the impact of their contribution.

Be mindful that you will often hear 'no'. The person might not be able to invest time and effort in your project or they could fail to see the value in assisting you. Those are all valid reasons to them and you should take them as such. Remember that in the same way that you simply cannot be everyone's savior, everyone will not always be willing to be yours. Knowing this possibility, be proactive by prepare a list of potential resources.

Handling disappointment is never easy but, as much as possible, try not to take it too personally and draw the appropriate lessons depending on the context.

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