How to Ask Important People for Help


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As we kick off 2016, you probably have a lot of things you would like to accomplish. Maybe you have something huge you want to achieve this year. You may need some help with that. You may need call on a few pros. And you know what they say, we are stronger together than we are apart. We’ve rounded up our top tips on how to ask important people for help.

Before You Ask, Set Your Intention

Quite simply, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. But you must also ask correctly. In order to do that, set your intention. What do you want from this person? I get it, that sounds selfish. But think about it this way: if you don’t know what you want, you are wasting this person’s time. Their value could be provided to someone else. Know what you want and know how to state it clearly.

Not sure how to set an intention? Read this.

Understand What “Important” Actually Means

It’s easy to think that an important person is defined by their job title or the recognition they have received. However, when you are looking to make something happen, what you need is someone willing to provide the guidance. There are plenty of people who may not be on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List but have the knowledge and are willing to share it.

Respect Their Time

Chances are, if you consider someone important, it’s because they are busy slaying the game of life in one way or another. Keyword: busy. Their time is crazy limited. So don’t ask someone to be your mentor if she just had a child. Don’t ask someone to write you a letter of recommendation one week before it is due. Be conscientious of their time and make it clear you know their time is valuable. It shows you are considerate and frankly, in touch with reality.

Provide Value

I used to despise when leaders would advise young people to figure out how they can provide value, not just ask for it. After all, how much value can one actually provide with little to know experience outside of the classroom? But it turns out you just have to get creative. While you may not be Instagram famous, you probably have a few hundred Facebook friends. To any entrepreneur whose trying to get their business out there, that’s gold. You may not have a huge network, but you probably have a few friends who are on the internship or job search. Who knows, that important person may be searching for another team member. And when all else fails, you can babysit. Though be careful to say that too early. That can turn creepy quickly. The bottom line is think of all of your assets. There’s more than meets the eye.

Do Your Research

A Hollywood choreographer once told me that what made Taylor Swift stand out in comparison to any young person he ever worked with was that she did her research. If she knew she was going to meet a music legend, she didn’t just know their Wikipedia page. She knew every recent interview, every accolade they ever won, their pets’ names, you name it. And because of that, people were willing to support her and respect her. Before you even reach out, take a tip from Taylor’s playbook and know this person inside and out.

Be Honest

Simply put, when you don’t know something, say so. Acting like a know-it-all is only going to hurt you, especially when asking for help. Stand in your intelligence but keep it humble.

You have big plans for 2016. You don’t have to take them on alone.

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Emily Raleigh

Emily is the Founder of Spire & Co. Since starting the brand in high school, she has spearheaded business development, community development, and marketing. Emily is a recent graduate of Fordham University, where she studied marketing, communications & media management, and digital design. When not working on Spire & Co, Emily can be found sailing, reading, exploring New York City, or on a bike–either finding her SOUL at SoulCycle or riding her rusty beach bike at her home on the Jersey Shore.

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