Terrified About Asking for Help from Strangers Online? Here Are 6 Ways to Do It

#3 Give them a way to opt-out

Shruthi Sundaram
6 min readJun 29, 2022
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Do you feel sweat breaking out, drenching your shirt when you want to approach a stranger and ask for help? Do you feel your palms itch or your body shiver even when you’re thinking about the process?

Yeah, you’re not the only one.

Throughout 2020, I felt ultra-uncomfortable asking strangers I’d never met before for something that would benefit me. I never wanted others to feel like I was using them. The whole process seemed so transactional that I was terrified of what they would think of me!

Then in late 2020, I went to the other side of the spectrum, realizing I’ll always be behind if I didn’t ask for help because I saw people build communities/networks and insanely benefit from it. I saw folks posting stuff like:

“I got a $2000 client because of my connections!”.

I wanted to be that person too!

Since I had never interacted with strangers online before, I probably went a tad too far (almost) demanding that people help me only because I asked them for it. Yikes. Even thinking of those messages, I want to bury myself 100 ft below the earth.

But don’t worry, I did find the right balance a couple of months later, learning from my mistakes.

Now, why did I tell you my life story? You guessed it right. Because I don’t want you to go through the same shit again.

Note: I’m talking about asking for help from people you don’t know here. If you already know them and have a good relationship, then bloody ask for it. You can make it up later because you know you’ll have the chance:)­­­­­­­­­

1) If you’re approaching someone to purchase your product/service flip the perspective

As a new solopreneur, I knew I couldn’t create a random product and wait for gods to do their work and become a millionaire. But I was terrified of pitching my newsletters/services/products to people directly.

Then I saw a LinkedIn post where the writer suggested flipping the coin.

How can your product or service help a person go from point A to point B? Focus on that while approaching someone.

So now you’re not asking them for help but are helping them reach their goals faster—the number one rule of marketing. Life became much easier after that.

2) [If you need specific help] Put out a post asking for help, and then further contact those individual people

Why? Because putting out a post seeking help is easier than DMing people personally.

We’re just putting out our words into the universe, right? Now, if people respond to it, we can always tell our minds, “Hey, X responded to it first. So they’re interested. It’s not like I’m bombarding them with something.”

For example, before I released this course, I wanted some beta readers but had no clue how to search for them. Mainly I didn’t want to “burden anyone.” So what did I do? I tweeted asking if anyone would help me in this significant milestone.

Then I DM’d the ones who were interested.

Further, I didn’t feel that weird. Win-win!­­­­­­

­­­­­­3) Add the term “No pressure.”

Many DMs miss out on this tiny factor when approaching people — giving the receiver the option NOT to help you out. Giving them a choice and not making them feel like they’re forced to help you.

Many don’t realize this: Yes, you’re giving them an option, but you also lift off your guilt.

When I started doing this, I had to tell my brain, “Hey, I gave them the option to move out. They still chose to help me!”

I used a combination of 2 and 3 techniques in the below message. I released a LinkedIn poll to gauge the interest in that week’s newsletter. Then approached people who mentioned YES.­­­­­­

Photo credits: Shruthi Sundaram

­­­­­­4) Offer help before/after you’ve asked for help.

I know, I know…I said that relationships aren’t supposed to be transactional before, but if some start that way, it’s okay. At least in your head.

There are multiple ways you can do this (and this is my overthinking brain working overtime):

  1. Go to their profile -→ See their latest posts / Check out their website -→ See something that can be improved, or feel you can help them promote their latest work? -→ Go one step ahead, and do it -→ Start talking and tie your help to the conversation smoothly if possible.
  2. Put the ball in their court: Mention that you have X, Y, and Z skills. And you’re just a DM away if they need help in these aspects. By doing this, you automatically get on their radar, and they’ll remember you in the future.
  3. You can take their help directly. For now, remember their support, and look to give back as soon as you get the opportunity.

Remember, when you offer help, you also open up the possibility of tons of learning and work opportunities (paid or unpaid) in the future. Because you’re letting them know you’re good at your work.

5) Place yourself as a student and give context.

  1. What attracted you to their profile?
  2. Why do you think they can help you?
  3. How did they inspire your work?

Even if you answered one of these questions, you would have brought a smile to their face.

By placing yourself as a learner, your respect for them will automatically take over the conversation, and they will realize it too. I’m not a promoter of doing free work, but if they’re worth it, and if possible, you can also do free work for them because you’ll learn so much!

*Note: This works for people up to 10 steps ahead of you. Not 1000 steps.

6) BEST OPTION: Ask your questions in the comments [If you can relate them to a post]

I know this happens in not-so-common situations, but asking further questions in the comments section reduces the guilt you feel compared to personally reaching out to people.

  1. You get on their radar by asking a sensible question and contributing to their conversation.
  2. It helps other folks who have the same question.
  3. You get your answers without drowning in fear and guilt.

­­­­­Okay, so it might look like I’m making you plan and plot too much. Well, I’m not. I’m sure you overthink more than this anyway.

Asking for help is one more thing that only comes with practice, and once you see the results, you’ll never go back. Remember, I’m not talking about being transactional here. You need to give as much as you take at some point or other. It should be a cycle. And once you truly understand that, life becomes much more manageable.

Some points to note:

  • 90% of our interactions are a combination of the above techniques. Mix and match consciously at first. Then it’ll become a part of your subconsciousness.
  • Our biggest downfall is overthinking. Don’t waste too many brain calories on things you cannot control. Just do it and see what happens. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  • I don’t care if I sound like a broken record, but please be genuine. Long-term relationships aren’t formed by one-time communications only when you need help. Support each other, be kind and helpful.

Take up a small experiment:
Approach three people and ask for help. It can be of any form — you might want to learn more about a subject, ask questions, and check whether they’ll be interested in your business…anything.

Why am I asking you to consider it as an experiment? Because your brain automatically leaves all inhibition behind, and your journey becomes much easier.

I hope all the tips and suggestions help you remove the strain in the pit of your stomach when approaching folks for help!

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Shruthi Sundaram

I help employees transition into their mission-driven, passionate coaching biz & scale up to high-ticket clients. Book a free call: http://shruthisundaram.com