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The Other Hardest Question: How Can I Help You?

January 8th, 2008

I don't know how to answer your question!When I started networking the right way I really understood the importance and impact of a well-crafted elevator pitch (aka, me in 30 seconds, etc.). The question this answers is “what do you do,” or “tell me about yourself,” or something like that.

It was really hard for me to answer with something really concise, targeted, full of information, and leaving you with a desire to learn more about me :)

I eventually got comfortable with my response… but there was “that other” hard question… “How can I help you?”

Vincent Wright is the Wright Hand bloggerLast week I was asked, in an e-mail, from one of the most connected people on the planet “how can I help you?”

I had to swallow my pride, which usually wants me to say “oh, I’m ok, but thanks for offering!”

You see, in the real spirit of networking, Vincent wants to help. And he usually can. So here was my response (in e-mail):

How you can help me… always a funny question. Let me lay out what my goals are for this year:

1. Get 73 more coach/resume writer partners.

2. Get more associations using JJ like IEEE-USA is (recognize this cool stuff: http://careers.ieeeusa.org/ ?)

3. Get some partnerships with outplacement firms nailed down.

4. Get more users on JibberJobber.

5. Get more PR. I just interviewed with NPR today (Vincent, this was a CT station: http://www.cpbn.org/wnpr-programming-schedule (some Sunday (I’m not sure which one) at 3pm)), which was awesome. I’ll be on NPR in SF in February… and would love to get more radio interviews. Also, newspaper coverage, especially the kind that would make people turn their heads (WSJ, NYT, etc.).

Of course, this is all pie in the sky (know that I’ll work my tail off to achieve it this year), so if nothing else, just getting Mr. T to do a 3 minute video where he says JibberJobber instead of JibberJabber would be great :) :)

It wasn’t easy to lay all of these out (and less easy to put it here, as now I’m making my path public), but I’ve come to realize that people want to help, and they can help, but they need to know what we need. Check out Vincent’s response, which blew me away:

I’m actually on the phone with someone who knows Mr. T. She says she’ll call him tomorrow.

There’s more to the story, as this e-mail went to two people (it was a virtual introduction). The other person, Bill Sobel, probably knows half of the who’s-who in NYC, and he replied back with a virtual introduction to a vice president of one of the three largest outplacement firms in the world.

Just knowing how to answer, with SPECIFICS, was the key.

So let’s assume you know how to respond to the question “tell me about yourself,” how exactly would you respond to the question “what can I/we do for you?” Put it in the comment box below!

6 Comments »

6 responses to “The Other Hardest Question: How Can I Help You?”

  1. Bill Sobel says:

    Thank you for the kind words Jason. I am in the same mindset as Vincent, and I’m sure yourself. I am forever looking at opportunites and trying to figure out if its not more me, who in my network might be interested or would be appreciative of the referral.

    For example I have a friend who is fluent in Spanish (and English) and has her Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford. She is interested in media and I heard through a friend that there there was an opportunity at NPR. Without even thinking twice I made the introduction.

    Another example…a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) in the Los Angeles area is looking for an business development person in the NYC area. He went onto LinkedIn and connected with a friend of mine. I got a follow up email that turned into a major contract for me.

    There is an online community here in the NYC area called wherespot.com. It is a social/business network for producers in media and entertainment. There are so many people on it that you can find almost anything. For example, I had a friend who was producing a commerical that requited a hair stylist for a specific type of dog (a weimeraner I think) in Salt Lake City. Where do you find such a person? He went on Wheresspot and got an answer in about 30 minutes.

    Sometimes these things just happen, sometimes they don’t…but if you don’t keep all your options open you’ll never know. And this I believe is one of the strengths of platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn…its a community.

    But in the word of JFK “its not what your country can do for you…it’s what you can do for your country.” Networking is not about what others can do for you…its what you can do for others…trust me…it’ll pay itself back many times

  2. Jason,

    Great timing on this post — I had my first “How can I help you?” experience just yesterday, and I found it extremely refreshing.

    As a consultant for entrepreneurs, I love bringing two great people together who can complement one another. Even if I can only do something small for someone else, like answer a WordPress plug-in question, it’s satisfying knowing my day positively impacted someone else.

    Right now, I’m looking to:

    1) Get 10 new clients per month for my writing business, Writer in Your Corner (http://www.WriterInYourCorner.com). My specialties include website copy (original or rewriting what you’ve got), sales letters, and how-to guides, although I can write just about anything.

    2) Get three new clients per month for my 30-Day Jumpstart to Success — unlimited access to me for 30 days to design (or re-design) your current organizational system so it brings you *freedom*, not restriction, by automating as much as possible, and getting highly-detailed action plans for all of your goals. It’s a lot easier to achieve anything if you have the entire path mapped out step-by-step. (I’m also available for smaller goal-setting projects.)

    If I could spend all my time writing and helping others to get their goals, I might die of happiness 😉

    I have a few ideas for you, Jason, which I’ll be emailing over in a minute…

  3. Dave Navarro says:

    Small world … I’ve been writing on this all week. The concept of “givers get” is absolutely critical to professional-strength networking.

    I’ve got to see how the Mr. T angle plays out. :-)

    In regards to your question: “what can I/we do for you?,” I’d have to say:

    1) Get more exposure for my business/productivity blog (My target is to hit 6000 subscribers by 12/31/08)
    2) Connect with at least 12 high-level (6/7 figure a year) entrepreneurs/executives in 2008 and carry out productivity training with them, so that they become solid references for my productivity product sales.
    3) Have Mr. T say “I pity da foo’ who don’t manage their time better with Dave!”

    Well, #3 is a bit of a stretch …

  4. Jason,
    I have an email in my archives from you dated 5/14/07. In it, you finish with “what can I do for you?” I thought you must have thought I was one of your home teaching families 😉 and yet we have never met and we live 800 miles apart.

    Anyway, since then you have helped me shape a business plan that I am intrepidly wanting to take out of the design phase.

    I just wanted to say thanks for the help…

  5. […] a year ago I wrote about this on my JibberJobber blog – go read the very short post here, and then come tell us (below, in the comments) how YOU will […]