Requesting people we don’t know well for help

Every once a while, we find ourselves in situations where we need to request people we don’t know well for help. As someone who has been a giver and receiver of this sort of help, I’ve come to appreciate when people do 3 things right –

(1) Get the name right. I know this sounds nuts. But roughly a third of the people who reach out to me make mistakes between my first and last name. Some threads even involve alternating names somehow.

(2) Keep it short/get to the point. Get to the ask directly. It’s okay.

(3) Don’t pretend a relationship exists if it doesn’t. No need to ask to catch up or feel compelled to pretend there was a strong relationship. Just make the ask – see (2).

Of course, it’d be great if we didn’t have to do this. It is best to plant trees well before we need the fruits.

But in situation where we have to, keep it simple and just make the ask.