Every one of us is going to need help from someone we don’t currently know at some point in our lives. Whether that “help” is in the form of contacts, information, expertise, insights or just plain support, it’s time to get yourself comfortable with seeking help for yourself.
According to Karen Wickre, author of Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Insider’s Guide to Making Connections that Count, asking for help is much more difficult…and much more humbling… than giving help.
In today’s world of emailing, texting, LinkedIn and social media, there are more ways to meet, connect, re-connect and follow-up than ever before. You can do the asking at your most convenient time and the person you’re asking can answer (or not) at their most convenient time. There is no need to think about “interrupting” or “bothering” someone because there is no “immediacy” involved in these “loose touch” interactions, according to media strategist David Benson.
A way to lessen the “stakes’ of asking for help is to practice asking for help continually…a little every day…especially when you don’t need the help and there’s no deadline and/or consequences.
Networking is a blend of asking for and taking help when we don’t need to and giving help when we don’t need to and when there is “no reason” to. Wickre says that once we nurture our network by asking and giving and taking, we’ll begin to see ourselves as givers rather than takers. “Occasionally problem solving for others ‘helps you overcome your fear of feeling needy’ because you begin to feel more useful to others yourself.”
Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift, talks about the “gift economy” and the value of reciprocity. Rather than a tit for a tat, Hyde encourages us to act upon the idea that “a gift is kept alive by its constant donation.”
Wickre sees networking as a two-way street, as reciprocity. She believes that relationships trump talent. She believes that keeping in touch and helping each other define relationships. Wickre believes that relationships are constant and continual, not every year or two when the interaction is transactional in nature.
Just as one’s sphere of influence can never be too large, we can never have too many ongoing, reciprocal relationships with people involved with all aspects of our lives.