Earlier this week I published my guide to finding freelance work with Twitter. In the article I repeatedly stressed that helping others was the best way to build credibility and to been seen as an expert in your field.
I enjoy helping people, meeting new people, and being presented with new challenges.
There is, unfortunately, a downside to being helpful
People will make demands and take advantage of you, even unintentionally.
And I don’t always deal with this very well because my inclination is to be helpful and I can find it difficult to say no.
I also use twitter to have fun and am not always working. Don’t be shocked, but sometimes I don’t even feel like thinking about WordPress or websites. Being an American who loves British Premiere League soccer can be a little lonely. So, I’ve made friends with people around the world on twitter who also love soccer. We frequently “chat” about the games we are watching on the weekends.
So, if I am on Twitter and say “Villa scored!!!”, I don’t expect to get a message saying, “Kim, my site is broken – help!!!!!!!” Now I’m thinking that some of my readers think I’m refering to them and I want to assure you that I’m not.
Isn’t it obvious that I am doing something else? That I have a life beyond WordPress problems? Maybe not …
Last weekend I was on Twitter and then I went out for a little while to pick up a Christmas tree. When I came home there was an @ message to me saying that I had no replied to their inquiry. At first I had no idea what that was about. I then saw that I had a direct message requesting my assistance from right after I had left the house. The time between the direct message and the @ saying I hadn’t responded was 45 minutes!! Give me a break. Or send me an email.
My personality causes me to want to stop what I am doing and help. But because I can find it difficult to say that it isn’t a good time I then feel resentful as I have very little free time.
And I’m certainly not going to ignore the request – I want to respond to everyone who takes the time to talk to me.
So in the interest of wanting to be helpful and responsive to everyone while not feeling like I being taken advantage of, I have written a few suggestions to keep in mind when asking for help.
- If you’ve had contact with the person you need help from before, send a direct message or an email. Don’t send an @ message.
- Take into consideration that the person probably has other things going on in their life. They might be in the middle of something, even a leisure activity and just because someone is online, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are working.
- Also keep in mind that you are asking for free assistance. This person is probably trying to earn a living doing what you are asking them to do for free. Be polite and thankful.
I should also add that if you are on the receiving end, be stronger than me about saying that it isn’t a good time. It’s fine, really. Usually the person doesn’t expect immediate help but rather I am interpreting it that way.
Small gestures like these will likely make the person much more willing to want to offer their assistance and there will be a much better chance of you getting your question answered.
photo credit: annamon