6 Dumb Ways to Ask for Help As an entrepreneur, the ability to make connections, ask for help and get help is easier than ever. When doing so, avoid these relationship-killing mistakes.

By Carol Roth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As entrepreneurs, we can't do everything ourselves. Those who don't learn how to seek out help, delegate and collaborate will find themselves tired, frustrated and stunted in their pursuit of success.

The good news is that technology has made the ability to make connections, to ask for help and to get help even easier. The bad news is that because the bar of access has been lowered, behavior has also been lowered.

Here are six ways in which you should absolutely not ask for help if you want to be successful in getting that help and in preserving your valuable relationships:

Related: Hungry for Success? 3 Business Lessons From the Food Network.

1. Don't ask at the 11th hour.
People are busy. Just because you can't manage your time well doesn't mean that others should have to drop everything to meet your deadline.

If you are asking for help promoting a new product on social media, check in on availability a few weeks prior and then send a reminder a day or two before your launch day. If you are asking for something big, like a book review or blurb, giving days or even a few weeks is an imposition for someone who is busy. Being respectful of other's time is a must in enlisting their help.

2. Don't be vague.
Most people are happy to help if you tell them what you want them to do. However, the onus is on you to figure out how they can be helpful.

Unless you are paying someone for strategy, be specific in how they can be helpful and focus on just one thing, whether it's an introduction, a recommendation, or sending an email to their customer base. The more specific and focused that you can be, the better.

3. Don't make people jump through hoops.
If you are asking for someone's help, make it easy for them to not only say "yes" but to do the task. Don't ask them to go to a website, read up on it and select from a list of times that you are available to talk. Send them the pertinent details and asks in a clear and concise manner or send them pre-written copy so they have the least amount of objections and the smallest possible imposition on their time.

Related: Simple Yet Powerful Business Lessons From a Once-Broke Turned Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur

4. Don't make inappropriate asks for the relationships.
If you don't know someone and haven't worked with the person, asking him or her for a reference is inappropriate (although it seems to happen frequently, courtesy of LinkedIn).

Also, asking for someone to provide a substantial introduction when you don't know each other well is also making an ask that is an imposition bigger than what the relationship justifies. Spend time investing in the relationship before you ask for something that is too substantial or you may burn that bridge for good. You can invest in a relationship by doing small things like sending relevant articles their way, big things like referring the other party customers or helping them with a project, or simply by building a connection over a series of coffee meetings.

5. Don't Leave out WIIFM.
While people may be helpful for the sake of being helpful, you can improve your chances by tuning into everyone's favorite radio station "WIIFM"-- aka "What's in it for me?"

Is your new book helpful to their client base? Can you possibly return the favor on a marketing endeavor down the line? Can your services really help a contact of theirs and engender goodwill from the recommendation?

While not everything has to be quid pro quo, explaining to someone upfront what they get out of helping you shows that you care about them and also helps them get to "yes" more quickly.

6. Don't be a jerk.
Say, "thank you" when someone has been helpful. Your mother should have taught you that!

Related: What These Influential Leaders Want to Tell Today's 22-Year-Olds

Wavy Line
Carol Roth

Entrepreneur, TV host and small business expert

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, a “recovering” investment banker, business advisor, entrepreneur and best-selling author. She is also a reality TV show judge, media contributor and host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. A small business expert, Roth has worked with companies of all sizes on everything from strategy to content creation and marketing to raising capital. She’s been a public company director and invests in mid-stage companies, as well.

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

California Woman Arrested For $60 Million Postal Service Scam

Lijuan "Angela" Chen faces two charges that each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Science & Technology

'We Were Sucked In': How to Protect Yourself from Deepfake Phone Scams.

Phone fraudsters are using AI to clone the voices of loved or trusted people to rip them off. Here's how to detect if the phone is real or robot.

Business News

Apple Just Unveiled Its VR Headset. What You Need to Know.

The Vision Pro is Apple's first major product launch since AirPods.


5 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Email Marketing

Abide by these simple tricks to help your campaigns gain more visibility and generate revenue in the process.


The Return to Office Movement is Causing a Mental Health Crisis. Employers Are Part of The Problem — But They Can Be Part of The Solution.

Employee mental health substantially worsened with the return to office demands, and it's causing disengagement and low morale. The solution demanded by employees is the answer.