Why you should always ask…

photo by http://flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms

I get satisfaction from helping people to meet other people, and to helping them find answers (or at least ideas to help them) to the questions they’re asking. It opens up my horizons to all of the possibilities I haven’t yet considered. And yet I often hear from people I talk to that they don’t want to ask others for help.

It could be because:

  • ˆthey’re afraid of rejection – asking the question increases the chances of someone saying no;
  • they’re not sure whom to ask – when you start thinking about a problem or question the solution (or people who might be able to help you solve it) might not be immediately evident;
  • they don’t like ask because they feel it obligates the other person to answer – and they’re not sure what they have to offer in return.
To all of these worries, I suggest the words of Shervin Pishevar, “The answer is ALWAYS no if you don’t ask.” Shervin shared these words at the Big Omaha conference and they resonated strongly with me then and even more now. I realized that the best advice I could give to anyone with questions is to help them connect with people who can answer those questions, or to help them ask.
Your social graph (and mine) are getting more and more effective every day if you reach out to people and have conversations (not just connect, but actually engage with those people) across services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We’re not going to have fewer of these inboxes in the future – we’re going to have more – and the sooner that you reach out and take advantage the more advocates you’re going to have on your side to help you solve problems.
It seems so simple, and yet the result can be so powerful. Think of it as a personal “Board of Directors”, or an extended group of people who care about making you better. All you have to do is find the people in your network who can help you answer questions – they might not be the people you think of out in the world – and just ask them to help. If they don’t want to help, they’ll say no. But I hope they will try – like I do – to make a difference by trying to answer the question. (Thanks, Shervin.)

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