I must admit, I can sometimes fall into procrastination’s tempting vortex. Your afternoon suddenly clears up and the project that’s due first thing in the morning doesn’t get your attention until the last half hour of the day. I picture Indiana Jones sliding under the trap door and reaching back to grab his signature hat seconds before he could lose his hand. Somehow, he always makes the decision to run for the exit at the last second, despite some opportunistically slow-moving trap doors.
However, there is one thing you should never procrastinate on: helping people.
When someone asks for your help, either at work or in your network, it is in both of your best interests that you provide whatever advice you can to them sooner rather than later. Why? Help is something people have difficulty asking for. In fact, according to an October 2009 Harvard Business Review article, people may be afraid to look dumb when they reach out for help. Stalling on your answer will only decrease their confidence.
Help is a two-way street
When you offer your assistance to someone in need, be it career advice, a chance to connect two people from distant networks, or even providing day-to-day assistance at work, you build trust. You build yours and their confidence. It will also never be forgotten. Helping people is a two-way street; you do something for someone, they will repay you down the road.
Assess the level of help you can give
Obviously we cannot say yes to everyone. Help doesn’t have to mean saying ‘yes’, it can mean saying no, but providing a better option. If you can’t donate $100 to your best friend’s daughter’s third grade school supply rally, suggest other ways or things that could help.
You know the solution. A person reaches out because they don’t just need a straight answer, they need guidance. If your friend is looking for a place to stay in Australia and knew you stayed there with someone you know, the answer might not be to send them to your contact, who they don’t know, it might be to point them to that great hostel you also stayed in. Carefully consider their question and determine how you can provide help. You are a wealth of knowledge.
Melanie is a specialist in Communications and Marketing, with her own personal site on advertising and lifestyle, Ademoiselle.com. Leave a comment or like this post! Or make a new Twitter friend @MelanieReiff.
Photo: Free WHD