Developers Don't Be Afraid Of Asking For Help

Introduction

You call it pride, ego, self-respect, or shyness, some of us don't like to ask for help. And some of us just don't know how to ask for help.


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Developers are different. We love to write code. We love to build the next biggest things using code. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Skype are a few examples of code that has changed the world. But there is a dark side to that. Writing code requires countless hours sitting in front of the computer and hence we do not spend enough time to socialize and to network. Many of us also build ego or pride. We live in our own little world. Many of us are not so social and have a shy nature. And many of us just don't know where to go and find the right network.

Many developers even become arrogant. I've met developers who are full of stupidity of arrogance. They are smart but they start thinking everyone else is a fool. I remember one day, this young sales guy asked one of my co-worker a question. Now remember, this is a student just graduated and he has no idea of coding. My co-worker simply called him "stupid". That sales guy today runs his own consulting firm and that "co-worker" is still writing code. 
 
Why Help

If you want to grow out of being a developer and want to become more than that, CTO or manager, or even start your own business, you will need to think and act differently. You will need to give up your pride and/or ego. There will be times when you may reach out and ask for help.

“Don't let your past write your future”

So Why Now

I was a typical developer living in my own world writing code behind the desk. But in the last few years, something has changed.

For the last few years, I have been involved in the startup community and have met many founders, entrepreneurs and even investors. Many of these people are very rich and successful. When I say, rich, I really mean rich, in billions. More and more I learn about successful people, the more common traits I find in them. One of the common traits I have seen in most of them is a willingness to help. Many of these guys are willing to give back to the community.

“People are willing to help...”

So where do you start?

Where To Start

Finding a mentor or “guru” is the key. Mentorship is the best way to get on the track. For a mentor, you must find somebody who believes in you and who sees your potential beyond you. Once you find the right mentor, you must respect their opinion and guidance.

What If

When reaching out for help, you should be very polite. Remember, you're in need. There are chances you may not get any response or help for a while or maybe never but don't be discouraged. Find somebody else and keep trying.

Remember, even though most successful people are willing to help, they are usually very full of activity. You're not the only person contacting them. For you, your need may be the most important task but for them, it's not. Try to fit into their shoes for a moment.

Here is a small chapter of my own life. When I started my first job, I was young, passionate and very energetic. I wanted to reshape my company and fix all the problems it was having. Keep in mind, I just joined the company and for the company, I was a nobody. But I didn't think that way. I reached out to our CEO and asked him to allow me to present some ideas to change things around. He entertained my ideas but he didn't act upon those. Today, I am in his shoes and totally understand. For him, that was not a high priority.

“A good mentor will look for your interest”

Here is one more example. At one of the recent events, one guy (call him “Jim”) started chatting with me and started complaining about a very successful billionaire. Let's call him, “Bill”. Now, keep in mind, Bill is a very good friend of mine and I know how busy Bill is. Jim was just going on and on about how his idea is so good and Bill liked it but Bill has not responded to him. This could happen to any of us. Just because Bill did not reply to Jim's email does not mean Bill doesn't want to help. People have priorities.

So How

So, how do I ask for help?

The best way to ask for help is try to build a relationship. You can't just randomly go to somebody you have never met and ask for help. The chances of getting any help are very slim. But if you introduce yourself and be polite and listen, learn and get a temperature of the person and politely ask when the time is right.

Sometimes I get emails from people asking for immediate help with their code. But people don't realize that I just don't write code. Nothing personal, but when people have work, business, family and kids, it's not easy for them to find free time.

Here is an email I got from a guy:

Hello friend! This is ............. I work at Tria and the other night on your way out we spoke briefly. You handed me your ...............card and we spoke a bit about your endeavors with C# Corner. I did a lot of research into your work friend and it is impressive!
As an amateur programmer myself, I'd love to sit down and have a beer with you and talk a bit about your work if you ever get the time! I get a pretty discount at Tria if you'd like to come back some time.
Let me know!
.......................

I replied nicely to the email that I am not really sure when I will be in that area. The truth is, it is very far from me and I really don't visit that place. Maybe once a year. The guy took it otherwise and thought I was blowing him off.

Let's put it in a real-world perspective.

Say, you go to a conference where you know this one speaker (let's call him Sam) can help you but he is very busy meeting. The best way will be to introduce yourself (don't be shy), talk a little about his talk, his work and ask politely if you could send him an email and try to get his email. Don't ask for his cell phone number and call him right away.

Now, you go home and write a thank you note about the meeting and write nicely, say you are looking for a little guidance and if he has time to help you out. Don't just go all the way and write a two page letter. If he replies and says OK, then you give him the details.

Sometimes it is possible you don't get a reply right away or maybe never. Don't take it personally. Sam may just be busy.

You just continue working on finding the next mentor.

Summary

Businesses are all about a good networking and relationships. There is nothing wrong with being proud but to build your own business and grow, you must let the pride/ego go and reach out to people who you think will be able to help you out.

Good luck!