David Strittmatter

Asking for help - how to get what you want

Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It’s one of the bravest things you can do ― Lily Collins

Dear Friend,

Have you ever asked someone you don’t really know for help, e.g., someone on LinkedIn, a friend of a friend, or a student from the upper semester?

Due to my YouTube community, I receive lots of messages on my social media channels. Most of them contain great feedback or quick questions. Yet, it’s concerning how many people send questions that could be answered via a 5-minute Google search or have a highly inconcrete request, e.g., whether I can jump on a call with them or meet them in a café to hang out.

I always tell people to ask for help. Never hesitate a second. In doubt? Ask! Great things can be achieved only with the help of others. And generally, we’re much more successful in whatever endeavor if we ask people for help.

However, just plainly asking for help and general advice hasn’t great chances of success. The more concrete and the more personalized the request, the better. A few examples:

Instead of asking “how do I achieve very good grades?”, ask “how do I best prepare for an exam in which I have to learn all content by hard?”.

Instead of asking “can I ask you some questions in a call?”, ask “I’m really curious about the following 3 questions. Could we jump on a brief call to discuss them?”.

Instead of asking “what should I do to become successful?”, ask “what are 3 things you learned that greatly helped you to achieve your professional goals?”.

It’s difficult to put oneself in the shoes of the people whom you’re asking for help. The more we try, though, the more likely we will succeed in obtaining the advice and help we need.

Here’s a personal example: I wanted to ask a startup founder a few questions about his founder story. So, I just send him a LinkedIn request (no message attached). Then, I wrote him a concise message. I wrote… first, thank you for accepting my request; second, I want to ask you 3 questions and for reason y you’re the best person to answer them; third, I listed the 3 questions; fourth, I suggest jumping on a 5-minute call or sending me a WhatsApp voice message so you save time typing out the answers (and here’s my number). A few hours later, I got super helpful insights.

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