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Asking for Help Through Email
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asking for help is hard enough as it is, and it can be even tougher to do when putting it into text. The problem that many people face is that they want to be clear enough in what they're asking for but end up complicating the question further by not simply stating it. A clear enough question needs no explanation.
Whether you've already had to or not, there will be a time in your career that you'll seek the assistance from someone with more knowledge or experience. Asking for help can seem like a lot of trouble, but it can actually keep you out of it.

But before you start firing off a slough of emails to people, you need to have a good approach if you want to receive good advice. Keep your questions focused without as opposed to vague questions like, "Any thoughts?" Yeah, they probably have plenty of thoughts, how many pages would you like them in?
Narrow what you want to know in just one, simple question. If you turn it into a quiz, they're more than likely to put it off. The quicker someone is able to get through your email, the quicker they'll be able to respond to it. Also, with a more specific question they can see that you reached out to them for a reason and have put thought into it.

Know What to Ask and You Shall Receive

When you're unsure about something, you might have a million questions running through your mind. Picking out just one and ruling out the others helps you identify what your problem really is and even help you solve some of the other side questions you had about it.

Have a rule about the length of your emails, no more than one to two paragraphs. You're more than likely to bore them or they won't know where to start in answering your question. Think your issue through and figure out what you're unable to solve yourself as opposed to seeking all the answers from others (which tends to put all the work on them).
You'll be able to close in on the real problem and solve any of the surrounding ones yourself making you more capable of accomplishing your task that you may have initially thought. People will be more willing to help you when you have a clear and well-thought out question for them to address. Before you know it, people will be turning to you for help.
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