Archive for September, 2012

How long since you asked someone for help?

September 24, 2012

It’s OK to Ask for Help

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to grow their business or their career, is to avoid at all costs asking for help. So if asking for help is the most obvious way to solve a problem, why do many people resist to the point of failing themselves, rather than take that perceived gigantic step?

Would fear possibly contribute to their dilemma?

* Fear of being indebted to someone

* Fear of looking or sounding stupid by not knowing how to do something in the first place

* Frustration that although they consider themselves to be a smart, intelligent person – how come they can’t do something as apparently easy as master computer technology, program a DVD recorder, change a toner cartridge without tearing their hair out.

Asking for help is the answer to most questions.

As Harvey Mackey says, “it’s not what you know, but who knows what you know.” Master networkers spend a lifetime gathering useless pieces of trivia and information. They store them  away, sometimes in a recorded format (if they are really organised). More often than not, it is in their head. Their mastery comes in being able to connect two or three seemingly obscure pieces of information and making them relevant. We are in a knowledge economy – information is the new currency.

I recently met a trade delegation of women from Singapore. Being very conscious of their financial outlay in coming to Australia, I wanted to be sure that they “got their money’s worth” so to speak. As I befriended the women, I asked the specific question, “When you return to Singapore, what is one thing you really hope you will have achieved from your visit to Australia?” Armed with these answers, I was then able to connect them with relevant people within Australia, who definitely had the answers for them. Some even may be in a situation where they could form a strategic alliance or put them in touch with another person who could. Master networkers always treat people the way they would like to be treated.

Let’s look at some of the asking for help options available to savvy networkers:

Fee for service:

This is by far the most popular – engage a tradesperson, service provider or professional who will normally quote for the job or service to be provided and charge accordingly. Yes, we will pay more for this service, but the job will be done exactly as we want it to be done. This is more often than not the most time efficient and, in the long run, economical way to ask for help.

Undertaking training:

Most skills can be learned and there are hundreds of courses available at TAFEs, evening colleges, BECs, universities, schools etc. The choice is really – what value do we place on our time spent in mastering the skill versus the cost of paying someone to do the job for us?

A friend recently bemoaned the fact that she was having terrible trouble mastering web site building. I asked, “Why wouldn’t you go to a recommended web master and get the job done in a quarter of the time?” Her response was that she wanted to learn how it was done – even though she knew it would be a one off and she had no intention of embarking on a web site building career. Each to his or her own – my thought was her time could have been spent better elsewhere, rather than mastering a one off skill.

 Barter services:

What skills in your area of expertise, do you have to trade with another service provider, who has the skills that you want? One hour of your time giving some marketing advice, may be considered a fair swap for someone who can give you a lesson in mastering specific technology.

Bartering always works when it is win/win – that means when both parties gain from the experience. This gain may not necessarily be financial, but the experience of learning and mastering another skill and the opportunity to extend your network.

 Volunteer:

With the global trend towards people wanting to give back to the community, there is no shortage of people looking for groups that they can become involved with. Maybe gardening or renovating houses is something you are keen to learn about. Seek out those charities which provide working bees at restoring homes or looking after pensioners’ premises. This is definitely a win/win for you, as you are doing something good for the community and learning at the same time.

 Find a mentor:

Sometimes we are so busy working in our business and career, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Finding a mentor for a short or long term role, can give you a very fresh perspective on your situation. Often a mentor has the ability to give you a hand up, so to speak, in connecting you with key players who can open doors for you. Try asking the specific question, “I am looking for a mentor who can assist me with my time management skills. Who would you suggest I seek out for this role?”

Over twenty years ago when I started my own business, I re-invented the wheel month after month, rather than ask people to show me a better way to do things. Not only did I waste time, money and energy, my business was stifled because of my fear of looking stupid by admitting I didn’t know something that I thought everyone knew – except me. It was only when I developed enough courage to mention some of the things I needed help with, that I found there were dozens of people in similar situations. We all needed help and we could help each other.

So the next time you feel stuck, not skilled enough to complete a task, and frustrated at your perceived incompetence – be courageous. Speak up, ask for help and become a role model for so many people, too afraid to ask for what they want.

Always remember it’s okay to ask for help.

Happy networking until next time.

 

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What is on your life of choice sheet?

September 9, 2012

One of my favourite Saturday activities, after my morning walk, is reading multiple newspapers over breakfast.  Yes I know I can read newspapers  online or on an I pad – but I really enjoy the mental stimulation and relaxation of reading my way through the national and local papers. There is something about turning those pages that I enjoy. Go figure, I guess that’s why I also like reading actual books rather than ebooks – but that’s another conversation. Admittedly I love living on the far north coast of NSW, and sometimes I feel it is like living in a bubble, when you are not exposed to many of the national and international happenings in the local paper. So Saturday is my day for a news catch up, what did I miss this week and what is happening in the world that may impact significantly on my profession, my future plans and my clients’ worlds? I do read three newspapers every day, but Saturday is the big five newspaper days.  And I for one, will be very sad when the day comes when actual hard copy newspapers are discontinued. But I digress.

In the Sydney Morning Herald 8.9.12 – there was an interesting article by Marcus Padley – headed – Only 250,624 hours left! It’s time to prioritise. The article went on to describe the Death Sheet – a spread sheet that applies actual life-expectancy tables. So based on this theory, I have worked out that if I live for another 30 years, allowing for leap years, etc., that will be 10,057 days, 1560 weekend, 262,968 hours.

It makes you realise how important it is to dig out your bucket list and started adding and deleting a few activities as well as realising how important it is to spend your free time with people you like to be around.

Marcus quotes an embellished tale about Warren Buffett being harassed by someone who just wanted an hour of his time. Warren’s reply:” I have worked out that I have 42,515 hours left to live. If you don’t mind, I don’t want to waste any of them.”

With respect to all actuaries, I have renamed your death sheet – Your Life of Choice sheet – because I know I do have a choice how I spend my time, the work I choose to do, the understanding friends I have neglected from time to time and those I will  spend quality time with in the future, the films I see, walks I take, books I read, emails I respond to and those I delete. Every day is filled with streams of multiple choices, will I, won’t I?

No wonder I love tele-coffees – those pre-arranged phone calls, that may last no more than 10 minutes, but cut to the chase of an issue or query, often resulting in a quick decision or outcome.  I definitely don’t want to spend too many of my future  260,000+ hours sitting in traffic or looking for parking spots reasonably close to the potential meeting. I love the speed of emails, and nothing beats a phone call – talking to a human and getting a decision or answer on the spot. Unfortunately phone calls and newspapers are both dying breeds – what a shame.

Yikes I have just worked out that I have already lived 517,032 hours – that could potentially be a depressing thought – if I let it be.

So let’s not waste another hour – and by that I don’t mean you have to DO anything. Sometimes spending hours doing nothing, is the best thing for you. Sometimes we have to slow down first, rest and recharge our inner batteries, our spirt, before we can speed up and move towards our next life of choice goal or activity. One of the lessons I have learned the hard way is doing nothing without feeling guilty.

Enjoy working out how many days, weekends, hours and if you want minutes and seconds you have to live. Then all you have to do is value every minute, enjoy your life and be open to all those amazing opportunities on the horizon. Networking can really fast track most of the things you want in life – and always remember every best friend was once a perfect stranger.

“Live each day as if it was your last – because one day it will be” – anonymous.