Looking for Help (in all the Right Places)
I used to be so afraid of approaching strangers for help. I would dread phone calls that I had to make to inquire about bills or apartments or anything. It’s not really that I was shy, but I was afraid that I would sound stupid. After making a few avoidable mistakes regarding registration and financial aid for college, I decided that I needed to get over my fear of looking to strangers for help or else I was going to fail college and end up broke!
I know I’m not the only one who has encountered this problem. I’ve heard other Career Girls say that they could use help with something, and just don’t know who to ask or how to approach the subject. Here are a few ideas that can help you find the answers and resources that you need for anything in life.
Ask the internet. I wanted to buy a house and had no idea where to start. My first step in my home-acquiring journey was to Google how to buy a house. Now, you don’t want to get everything you need to know from the internet, but it’s a good places to start. Plus, there are millions of people out there asking and answering questions constantly. In my case, the housing market is a hot topic so I can find good, timely advice (especially about what not to do). Also, this is the easiest thing to do because no one is watching you. You don’t have to feel silly asking Google where bacon comes from or how to apply eyeliner. Google won’t judge.
Look for classes, videos, podcasts, or other media. In my case, I was talking to my stylist about how I wanted to buy a house. She let me know of a non-profit in my area whose mission is to help first-time home-buyers get into homes that they can afford and enjoy. I was so happy to find out that they provide free and low-cost classes covering everything from what a mortgage is and how to finance buying a house, to what you should expect in an inspection and how to do home repairs! Now, if you’re looking for something not so monumental, or just want to learn about a different field of study, look for a library book, free e-books, iTunes U for college classes, and downloadable podcasts from experts. Not all information is created equal, so be skeptical and look for reputable sources.
Ask people close to you. If you are trying to make a big decision, find a great taco place, or plan a trip, you can ask a few of your friends if they’ve done it before. Social media makes this really easy because you can write a general question and see what kind of responses you get. People that you know may have had a lot of experience with something, or be able to refer you to someone who can help, and you never would have known unless you asked them. Friends not helping? Search Reddit for a Sub-Reddit just for your city or the topic you’re curious about and ask there. Remember: you don’t have to take everyone’s advice, but at least take a minute to consider whether their experience can inform you in your situation.
The first few tips are a great way to start because they can boost your confidence so you’ll feel smarter on the subject if you need to dig deeper and consult an expert. How do you ask for help or advice from someone who might be a stranger? You pick! Send an email, call, or stop by. This of course depends on the business they’re in and what the topic is, but the general format is the same: “Hello. My name is Adrienne Asselmeier and I’m looking for some help with getting a house and don’t know where to start. If you have any advice, I would certainly appreciate your information! If not and you can point me in another direction for help, that would also be great. Thanks for taking to time to talk with me.” Is the person you asked going to be put off because you politely asked for help? Nope! People like to be considered an authority on their area of expertise—it’s flattering.
Don’t be afraid of reaching out for advice or information. Feeling awkward asking questions is better than making big mistakes, losing money, and living your life in the dark.