I have a friend that bought a house earlier this year. We have pretty much converted the whole house into something new and, well quite frankly, it looks great. Painted every room, decorating, staining and putting up trim, redoing kitchen cabinets, putting up backsplash, new light fixtures – top to bottom we are transforming that house into his own.
I say we because I’ve been the head painter, decorator, shopper and project manager. Last weekend we painted the outdoor storage shed – more like a mini house. Later I had someone else ask me why I have done so much to help my friend.
It is simple, really. Just two little reasons:
- He asked.
- He is appreciative.
I find as a rule, most people do want to help you. You might run into apprehension when asking, but that is nothing to take personally.
Normally when someone is apprehensive it is due to either having been asked for help but expected to produce results or a continual barrage of requests without listening to the advice given.
Here is an example of each of these scenarios:
A job seeker reaches out to a possible contact to request their opinion or advice. The contact agrees to give them time and the job seeker then ends up asking them who they know that is hiring or could connect them to in order to get a foot in the door.
A job seeker contacts a possible contact to ask for advice and the contact speaks to them for a period of time giving good, solid information and suggestions. The next day the job seeker calls back to clarify what they said and ask exactly how they should do one thing they suggested. A couple days later they call again with the mind set that it isn’t working and what are they doing wrong, or is there anything else they should be doing.
People don’t mind helping; but when it becomes an expectation it crosses the line and they are no longer willing to provide assistance, information or expertise.
Many will say that they don’t know how to get help.
It is as simple as that.
Reach out and ask for their time and advice. Be respectful in knowing the boundaries, do not expect more than what is offered, do not use it as an opportunity to recruit them as your own personal head hunter or connector to anyone else. Keep it simple and respectful.
The next important aspect in receiving someone’s help:
A simple follow up note stating your appreciation will go a long way. Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated? I know last weekend after I was home and settled for the night my friend called and simply said, “I just wanted to thank you for all you have done. I really appreciate it.”
That one simple gesture was genuine. It is one reason why I don’t mind giving up my time and putting work into his projects. He appreciates it and tells me as much.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or opinions. Simply ask giving the parameters of what you are asking.
If you are looking to break into a new field you can contact someone already working in the industry and tell them that they are doing a job that you would love to do and would simply like to find out more about how they got there to determine your next steps. Be clear that you are not asking for a job or leads, just simply would love some industry insight.
If they agree, keep your conversation within the allotted time period, stick to your questions and do not meander over to the dark side of asking them to do any more for you.
At the end of the conversation thank them for their time and value that they presented to you. Immediately write a thank you note and pop it in the mail. If you don’t do thank you notes, which I see no reason not to, the next day send them an email thanking them again.
These two things: asking and appreciation, will serve you well now and in the future.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW