How to ask for help

You can start by asking: “Will you help me with _______ ?”

Try it.

Other ways:

  1. You can barter: stuff for work or stuff for stuff.
  2. You can trade: work for work.
  3. You can network: ask other people how to get help. (“Do you know someone who could help me…?”)
  4. You can offer: there are plenty of people out there needing to make a little cash, build up a portfolio, make contacts. Offer the budget/resources you have and see what happens.

Don’t do this:

Pretend to give something of value when you’re not:This business will be big and if you get in on the ground floor! now! and work for me for free you’ll reap the benefits and get fame and glory as the person who was there from the beginning and I’ll almost certainly have enough money to give you some then.”

Ask for unlimited, vague help: Don’t ask for people to commit X hours per week or X amount of work per week, forever. Don’t ask to pick someone’s brain (what does that even mean?). Don’t ask for a mentor (that’s a big commitment). Instead, look for help with a particular task or question.

Some tips:

  • Ask for help within your own network first.
  • Think about what you have to offer in return. Maybe it’s a weird offer, but throw it out there. At the least, it shows that you understand that there is value in what you’re asking and you’re happy to provide value in return.
  • Do state up-front what you can pay if you can pay something.
  • Be specific about what you need help with.
  • Realize that when you’re not offering standard rate, and are, instead, asking for help, you give up the right to demand that things be done your way or on your time table.
  • Don’t be afraid to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve done pro bono work because I needed to build my portfolio. I’ve done free work because I want to help a friend out. I’ve done quick projects for lower-than-normal rates when I needed extra cash or found the project interesting. I’ve happily traded work for work both in and out of my network (a great way to expand your network).

Number one way to ask for help: start by being helpful.