By Poornima Vijayashanker – Get free updates of new posts here
Too often we get overwhelmed because we think we have to solve every problem alone! Needing to ask for help seems like a sign of weakness, you feel like you’re burdening someone by taking up their time, or worse yet you might have overlooked the importance of building up a support system.
However, one of the hallmark traits of successful people is to be OK with asking for help when they need it. In fact many times hard work isn’t enough, you need help to get to the next level.
While it’s true some folks might be unable or unwilling to help, it all comes back to the bite-sized sales approach I mentioned a few months ago.
Don’t wait till it’s too late
I understand that it’s hard to anticipate when you may need to ask for help, but I’ve notice that too often people reach out the moment after they’re in a dicey situation. This actually makes it harder for someone to help, because the helper has to first get you out of the mess you’re in, before they can propose a solution for the root cause of the situation. It also creates anxiety for the helper, they fear making the situation worse, before they can make it better.
Anticipate needing help if you’re venturing into new territory where you have limited knowledge and prior experience.
I’ve talked about the bite-sized sales approach before when you want to ASK for something: a promotion, project proposal, etc. To sum it for new readers, the bite-sized sales approach means you start by having conversations with people to understand why they might object or push back. Then you proceed to address those objection in a follow up conversation and craft a small ASK, and you’ll repeat this method until you’ve reached your initial goal. Seems like a lengthy process, but it’s got a much higher success rate especially in environments where people will easily reject new ideas or have many constraints.
Before you tackle the problem yourself, you can use the bite-sized sales approach to ask for help. You’ll want to start by identifying someone’s key strengths and interest. You can then proceed to carve out a piece of your problem, by using their key strength to solve it, and show alignment of interests.
For example, I was recently approached by a startup founder to teach a 30 minute course online based off of material I had previously taught. He identified my strength in teaching, provided a clear alignment of interest with my startup Femgineer, and the ASK was small enough that I said yes.
If you do this early i.e. before you tackle the problem yourself, you won’t back yourself up into a corner, and you’ll have made it easier for someone who is more experienced than you to provide an elegant solution.
When was the last time you asked for help? How did you do it? I’m curious to know, so please tell me in the comments below!