Home > Career Advancement, Communication, Discover People, Networking > When People Ask for Your Help: The Less, The More.

When People Ask for Your Help: The Less, The More.

A good friend was complaining to me. He is a very sharing person and he has good contacts in his industry. He helped many people for the past few years, even total strangers on many things, but when he was switching job himself and asked those he has helped for help, a lot of them don’t even bother to share the information they obviously know.

Why? You made it too easy for them when they were asking for your help. You failed to let them see how much value you added, and when they get what they want, they think they would have achieved it without your help anyway, so they don’t appreciate you as much as they should have. 

You don’t want that. You go out of your way to help people and you deserve the respect and appreciation. You want them to see your value, and to value your time.  And here’s how to do that: 

1) When you get emails asking for help, don’t respond immediately (meaning you shouldn’t feel obliged to respond immediately, but if you feel like it or if it’s from a closer friend, you might as well). When you do respond, don’t apologize for responding late. (I used to always apologize if I respond in a few days lag, but then I figured you are offering help to other people, it’s good enough for you to respond already, so no need to downplay your contribution). 

2) Never go beyond a few lines with your response. Actually in order to save your own time typing up all the words you should ask the person to call you. Be sure to mention you have a busy schedule so give him/her a certain time range in the next few days for the call. If he can’t make the time to call you or to pay you a visit (if in the same city), he’s not serious about what he’s looking for. 

3) If the person wants a contact for his job search, ask for his resume (in the situation that you don’t already know him well). If he doesn’t give you his resume, he doesn’t trust you. Why would you want to help someone who does not trust you? And you should take a look at his resume before recommending him because you don’t want to blow up your own reputation by backing up someone totally unsuitable for the position. 

4) Finally, if everything goes well and you are convinced that the person you helped is someone you could trust and build long-term relationship with, share information on events of his/her interest. It’s a good way to keep in touch and he/she will be your eyes and ears, in case you can’t make it to those events yourself.

Do the items above sound too manipulative to you? They might be at first, but think about it this way: It is unfair for you if you just throw all the valuable information at him, because you worked hard for it. It is unfair for him also, if you don’t even give him a chance to work hard for it too.


  1. May 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Agree! Although I did not have much expereience as you, I understand the feeling! It sucks when people you have helped do not appreciate, just take it for granted, and unwilling to help you with even trivial thing.

    • May 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Hey thanks for stopping by, and I am glad you agree with what I am saying. Another thing you can do is when you write to someone you helped before, instead of asking for a favor upfront, you can bring up the fact you did help him, in a sutble way like: “So how is it going with your new job?” or “So hope you are enjoying the first month on your new job”.

      Btw, noticed you just started a new blog too, that’s really nice. Keep it up!

  2. J.L.
    May 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Brilliant idea!

    Especially the one that “have them call you.” Because most people just don’t take what they said seriously. If you told them to call you, 9 out of 10 times you won’t hear back from them until they see you next time.

    I have trouble figuring this out before, but now I know how to do it. Thank you!

    • May 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Yeah. If one day you get too many you need to be picky. Help those who want to help themselves first.

  3. October 27, 2014 at 3:48 am

    This is so helpful! There are ALOT of people who just want to take advantage (sadly happened to me a couple of times- I felt used during those horrible experiences) and the tips that you have shared are very practical and fair. Thank you!

  1. February 8, 2011 at 12:20 am

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