February 16, 2015

How to ask for help


Waiting to be invited

When I need something on projects, I’m very direct. When it comes to something for me though, I don’t like asking. I have a natural reticence. My standard MO is to wait to be invited.

The non-negotiable price of entry for the waiting-to-be-invited is doing good work. It gets people’s attention, earns good will and is enough to create a chain of good connections. In other words, waiting works.


But sometimes patience needs a helping hand. I might find myself standing on the sidelines hoping for an invitation. I try waving but no one seems to notice, or they think I’m just saying Hi.

Even if they actively want to help, most people are busy with their head down and focused on their own thing. They miss opportunities without ever seeing them. I know I do. Every now and again, someone asks for help with something and I feel a bit of a fool for missing the connection on my own. I’m very glad they asked.


If I know I need someone’s help, and I think they’ve missed the signs, I force myself to raise my hand and ask – I need help with this, can you introduce me to this person, do you have any capacity to take on this thing I can’t do on my own. And people react pretty much the same way I do.

Doing good work will win you attention, good will and great connections. But everyone needs a little nudge now and again. If it feels uncomfortable that’s good sense kicking in – no one wants to be that guy – but get out of your comfort zone and ask for help when you need it.

Skippy Strategy – Make it clear to someone you know that you’d like their help with something. Might be as simple as asking for an introduction, or advice about running.