For many of us, thinking about asking a stranger for help feels like this:

Man with headset saying

With the right strategies, hopefully you will feel a bit more like this:

Boy sitting in chair saying

It's Absolutely OKAY To Ask For Help

Asking for help can be scary, especially if it is something that you are not used to doing.

Woman saying there is Whether it be for something small, like directions, or something big, like asking for advice or feedback, everyone needs help sometimes.

We often think that we should try to do things by ourselves. But you do not have to go through life alone.

Even the great Sherlock Holmes needs help...

Sherlock and Watson sitting on a couch laughing

Determine Your Desired Outcome

Be very clear about what you hope to achieve by asking for help from someone.

  • Are you looking for feedback on a job application or a resume?

  • Do you want to learn more about a company?

  • Are you seeking donations?

By having your desired outcome in mind, you will be able to tailor your message to the person you are reaching out to.

Woman with blonde hair saying

Consider The Person

There are tons of experts you can reach out to, so it is worthwhile to ask yourself:

"Why this person?"

If you can express to this person why you chose them out of everyone else, they may be more likely to help you.

Ex: "I have seen the incredible work you have done at our local community gardens, and I would love to pick your brain about a research project on a similar topic."

Alien sitting in a chair, waving someone away and saying

Also, consider some other "ins":

  • Who is most likely to respond to you?

  • Do you have any shared connections?

How Will You Reach Out?

Will you:

  • Stop by their office?

  • Call them on the phone?

  • Send them a typed or handwritten letter?

  • Send them an email?

  • Connect on social media or another digital platform?

Consider this person's day-to-day life and your connection to them. It may be inappropriate to just pop by to make your request if you do not know them personally.

Purple laptop computer blinking with thought bubble that reads

Craft Your Message

  1. Introduce yourself in relation to your question

  2. Explain why you are reaching out to this person

  3. Ask them for what you need

  4. Be concise and direct

  5. Maintain a professional tone

  6. Offer thanks in advance for their time

  7. Proofread

Man with headphones sitting at microphone saying

Which Of These Messages Is Best?

Flaticon Icon Which of the following message follow the template from "Craft Your Message"?

Option 1

Dear Ms. Hutchens,

My name is Anthony. I am a current college student pursuing a degree in computer science. I am interested in applying for an opening at company ABC. You have been with company ABC for 15 years, so I am confident you would be able to give me an accurate representation of what it is like to work there before I apply. Would you be able to set up a quick phone call or answer a few questions via email?

Thank you in advance for your time,

Anthony Beaty

Option 2

Hi Cassie,

Could you tell me about your job, your company and the people you work with? I may apply there. I want to make sure it's a place I would enjoy because I really hate places and people with bad vibes.

Thanks!

Anthony

Quiz

Which message follows the template from "Craft Your Message" and is appropriate to send?

Take Action

Craft your perfect message to a stranger by doing the following:

Good luck! Go out there and get 'em!

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