“How can I help?”
Have you noticed the most notorious relationship building question in the book has it’s challenges…
What do you do when you’re looking to build a relationship with someone by providing value to them and they say, “I’m all good for now” when you ask how you can help?
You could say crap and pack it in, but I think there’s a better way that I want to share with you…
But in order to instill a greater sense of confidence around what I’ll soon propose, I want to highlight this important foundation:
Everyone and anyone regardless of how much “they’re crushing it” can have their progress accelerated by other people (whether they’re aware of it or not).
**This means that we’re all perpetually in the position to benefit from help. [tweet this quote]
Why then do people say they’re “all good” when you ask them for help? A few potential reasons:
- They really do have one thing they’d love help with, but feel awkward asking you for a variety of reasons (limited rapport, perceived non-compliance, perceived inability to address the need, etc)
- They know they could probably use help but haven’t been intentional about identifying what could be accelerated with someone else’s help.
- Pro-tip: No B.S. introspection around what you could use help with is an incredibly valuable use of time. The fastest way to accelerate progress is expert advice
- Vulnerability scares the crap out of them and they think asking for help is incongruent with their outward “I’m crushing it” front
- They don’t want to feel like they owe you something (law of reciprocity self-defense!!!)
- They don’t need help because they’re omnipotent, can fly, and nothing can be enhanced or accelerated by another person. They’re the best at everything : p
The bottom line is that there is always an opportunity to provide value even when someone indicates that they don’t need any help.
One Way to Approach Creating Value When Someone’s “All Good”
A great thing you can do is to spend a few minutes thinking about how you could be helpful and then propose a few specific action items that you’d be willing to facilitate. I like picking 2 or 3.
Here is an example email you could send in response to an “I’m all good for now” interaction:
Hey [insert name],
Great connecting and awesome to hear things with [insert company] are going so well. I know you mentioned you’re good for now, but I did a bit more thinking about our conversation and thought I might be able to help in the following ways:
- I have a close friend with experience in [relevant domain]. I’m happy to check if they’re open to connecting if you have any interest.
- I looked on your site and noticed you’re hiring for [insert position]. My friend actually runs a newsletter that features startup jobs. If you want, I can see if we can get that position featured.
- I remember you saying you’re trying to scale back on meetings in order to honor your existing commitments. I have a few email scripts you can use to gracefully say no when you don’t have the bandwidth to meet with someone. If there’s any interest in checking them out, I’m happy to send them along.
No obligation on taking me up on any of this stuff, I just wanted to get them on your radar in case they’d be helpful.
Look forward to seeing you again soon and best of luck with [impending event]!
If your goal is to provide value to someone else, there’s literally no downside to an email like this.
Best case scenario: you illuminate something that the other person takes you up on and you’re able to make their lives better…A++ for relationship building.
Worst case scenario: they’re not interested in anything you propose, but they walk away appreciating your thoughtfulness and commitment to aid their progress.
I’ve gotten an excellent response with this approach.
You can even leapfrog the “how can I help” dictum by proposing things you perceive might be helpful right from the get go. This is an excellent relationship building strategy to use with people you haven’t met before…we’ll save that for another day ; )
Enjoy this post? Some other killer articles on relationship building:
How to Persuade People You Don’t Know to Help You (Derek Halpern)
Never Ask A Busy Person to Lunch, Here’s Why (Mark Suster)
Ramit’s Definitive Guide to Building Your Network (Rami Sethi)