I Am Here to Help. Please Help Me Help You.

28 Apr

Every few weeks or so, I get an email asking for help with a school project.  The request usually goes something like this: I have to interview someone who has the job I’m interested in.  Could you please answer a few questions for me? And I am happy to help them. After all, I’ve put myself out here in the Hinternets specifically to be a helper.  I always encourage folks to leave comments here on the blog or to email me.  Lots of folks take me up on the invitation, and I truly do my best to respond to requests completely and in a timely manner.  Occasionally something falls through the cracks, but a gentle nudging usually spurs me to action.

At any rate, I enjoy answering your questions.  I’m glad to be a Helper, and I’m always gratified when someone tells me that they’ve learned something from me.  The vast majority of the folks who contact me are Lovely People.  I have, of late, fielded several emails from folks who are either Less Than Lovely or just don’t know any better.  So, for their edification, and as a General Treatise Regarding Email Etiquette When Asking for Help, I give you these Rules to Live By:

  1. Make sure you have a reasonable email address.  Even if you use the handle sparkles94 or Snooki_Rules on twitter or IM, set up a free YourName@gmail or yahoo.com for correspondence with professionals.  And Lord help you if you use sparkles94 as part of your email address on your resume. It will be passed around and giggled at.  And then you might receive a stripper pole in the mail.  Just sayin’.
  2. Once you have a reasonable email address, write reasonable emails.  Check your grammar and spelling, and for the love of All God’s Creatures, please don’t use cutesy wallpaper or wee tulips and a handwriting font in your signature.  If you’re contacting a professional, approach them in a professional manner.  You are much more likely to be Taken Seriously.
  3. When asking someone for help, it is preferable to include your name in your request.  Pleases and thank yous also go a long way toward Fostering Good Will.  It’s generally a Good Idea to ask if the person has time to answer your questions and allow a good week or so for a response.  Many people are Very Busy, and while your project is a top priority for you, it most likely is not everyone’s top priority.
  4. Do Not send questions two days before your project is due.   See #3.
  5. Please make sure that your questions are specific.  Most folks will be much more likely to give a thoughtful response to “When was it that you first knew you wanted to enter the culinary field?” than “Why do you do this job?”
  6. The following questions, and I am quoting directly, are for various reasons never to be asked: “Could you get back to me ASAP?” “What is the hardest pastry to make?” and “How long before you started to make good money?”

If I sound tantrum-y and whiny, I blame lack of sleep.  But even Well Rested Jenni has her limits.

I really want to be a helper; that’s why I set up shop out here in the first place.  And I’m by no means the only one.  The Hinternet is full of helpful people, not the least of whom are listed over in the sidebar, so please be Pleasant and Respectful to your friends in The Hinternet.

Thank you very much.
I just found this Wee Child explaining how to have a tantrum.  After watching, I’m not sure I did it quite right.  What do you think?

7 Responses to “I Am Here to Help. Please Help Me Help You.”

  1. An_Other_Jenn April 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I’m guilty of at least three of the above…sorry about that :\

    …And THANK YOU very, very much for all of your help, both with my project, and the gentle, humorous reminder to behave appropriately & play nicely 🙂

    • onlinepastrychef April 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

      You are very welcome for the help, Jen. And I wasn’t even talking about you–promise! Hope the project went swimmingly! 🙂

  2. Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother April 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    7. If you are 12 years old, it’s okay to use a cutesy email address. But don’t lose your mind when I call you by your first name in the response. I’m not a stalker: Yahoo mail adds your full name to the header.

  3. David April 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    ew #4: I never understand all these last-minute people either. It’s like they have this big project, but only get around to shooting off an e-mail at the last minute..?


  1. Tweets that mention I Am Here to Help. Please Help Me Help You. « Pastry Methods and Techniques -- Topsy.com - April 29, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jmfield, Alessio Fangano. Alessio Fangano said: RT @jmfield: When emailing for help with a project, please follow these rules. Kthx:) http://wp.me/smhgR-tantrums […]

  2. Randomness | Bon Appetit Hon - May 20, 2010

    […] Help Me Help You @ Pastry Methods and Techniques – At what point in recent history did good manners and common sense become obsolete? […]

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