I get a few emails each week from people asking for help. Whether its about startups or anything else, I enjoy trying to help out.
I get emails from people I know, others are via introductions. Some are completely cold. I try to answer every email I get quickly and thoughtfully. But I give better responses to some emails, while leaving others to languish in my gmail inbox, starred for when I have some extra free time. How you ask me for help generally determines the quality of my response and more importantly, how quickly I get back to you. So what’s the best way to ask me for help?
- Email me. Don’t Facebook.
- Tell me how we know each other or how we came into contact. If we’re friends, skip this step.
- Keep it short. Don’t write a bunch of BS filler.
- Be direct. Tell me specifically how I can help, not open ended statements
- Ask without shame. Don’t flatter me. Don’t disparage your idea.
- Tell the truth
Here’s an email I got from a friend a few weeks ago. It’s perfect. Direct, to the point, a specific ask and doesn’t apologize for asking. I responded quickly because he made it easy for me.
I have a question about setting up a partnership that I thought you might have a good perspective on.
I have been working on building an app that’s the next evolution of that [removed] site I built, but I’ve also found a designer and an engineer who already have a few apps built that we could re-purpose to build the app I was originally designing. These guys were looking to expand into new verticals, so it works out perfectly as a way to get to market quickly with a quality product.
However, how do you split something like this up? They have a good chunk of the code already written, but the app would need to be re-designed with some additional dev work. They would work on the code and the design, and I would bring the end user knowledge to build and market the product. They have no knowledge of the space. Do you think it’s fair to ask for a 33% split or am I over stepping my boundaries? I know it’s a tough question to answer with the limited context, but I thought you might have seen something like this in the past. Any comments or thoughts would be much appreciated.
After I respond to your email, write back to me. I want to know you got my email. And if I helped or not. A thank you isn’t necessary, although it’s always appreciated! You’d be surprised how many people never respond again. That’s the surest way to make sure I won’t respond again. His response was:
Thanks Nate. I think you hit it right on the head. I appreciate your input.
If you follow these rules, you’re likely to get a quick, thoughtful email response! What do you think? Am I missing any important pieces of information that you like to see when people ask you for help?