How To Ask for Help in an Email (With Examples)
There are many different ways to approach someone for assistance, and each way has its own advantages. One common way to reach out for help is through email. If you choose this method, it's important to understand how to write an effective message.
In this article, we explain why it's beneficial to ask for help by email and how to ask for help by email, and we provide several examples of emails asking for help.
Why is asking for help by email beneficial?
Asking for help by email can help you organize your thoughts before reaching out to someone, and it shows the person you are asking that you respect their time. Emails are often less time-sensitive than a phone call and less invasive than visiting someone in person. Using email to ask for help can give your colleague, supervisor or contact time to evaluate and research your question.
Asking for help using email can also help you narrow down your question and edit your approach. When you take the time to write out an email, you might process the situation differently than you would if you asked the question aloud without giving it as much thought. The specific and direct language you can use in an email can also help you eliminate unnecessary details.
How to ask for help via email
Follow these steps to ask for help using email:
1. Use a clear, direct subject line
Use the subject line to clearly express what your email is concerning, especially if you don't know the recipient well. The subject line can act as an introduction to your email. The person you are asking for help may be more interested in the body of your email when they are interested in or curious about the subject.
2. Greet your reader
Including a greeting can help the email seem more personal and set the tone for the rest of the content. The greeting you choose can give your reader an idea of how formal or informal your email will be. Be sure to spell their name correctly and use the appropriate honorifics (for example, using "Dr." instead of "Mrs." if the recipient has a Ph.D. or medical degree).
Related: How To Address an Email
3. Establish your credibility
You should introduce yourself and show the value of your communication in the first sentence, especially if you haven't had previous contact with the recipient. Give your credentials and explain how you came in contact with the individual. If you are more familiar with them, you can start by giving context for your problem or question.
4. Put the question in the first or second sentence
Ask your question early in the email so that the recipient can find it easily. Many people skim their emails, so placing the question or request early in the email helps ensure that they will see it. Positioning the question at the top of the email also helps them determine whether they can help without spending too much time sorting through information.
5. Use a call to action to clarify the next steps
People are often more likely to help you when they know how to proceed. If you are looking for answers to a question, you can specify where you looked or why your research didn't turn up the answers you were looking for. If you are asking for another kind of help, such as asking the recipient to complete a task, you should provide clear instructions and goals.
Related: How To Write a Call to Action
6. Make your email easy to read
Many people check their emails between tasks, so you want to make your email easy to skim. If you have a lot of information to include, you can use bullet points and bolded text to help your reader easily recognize the most important points.
7. Give your reader a deadline
To give your reader a better understanding of what you need and when make sure to tell them your timeline. When you give the recipient a time frame for when you need their help, it allows them to determine whether they can give your request the attention it deserves. Knowing when they need to answer can also help alleviate stress and help them build your request into their schedule.
8. Close the email politely and thoughtfully
When you close your email, you should thank the recipient for their time and assistance. They may be more inclined to respond if it's clear that you respect their other obligations and expertise. Thoughtful closing sentences can also build goodwill and friendship.
9. Edit before you send
Editing your email before you send it can help you determine if you are using the correct tone and if you made any grammatical mistakes. You may also find that you should adjust the amount of detail you provide.
Asking for help email examples
Here are some examples of emails asking for help:
Email asking for help from colleagues or supervisors
Subject: Stable Feeds Contact Information
I'm Stefan, the new account manager. Could you send me the contact information for Stable Feeds' inventory manager? I'm trying to reach out to Stable Feeds for their monthly order, but I can't find their information in the database. You can send it here or over text.
I'll be in the office until 5:30 pm today, and I'll be back at 9 am tomorrow. I would like to try reaching out to them before lunchtime tomorrow, if possible.
Thank you for your help!
Email asking for help filling a volunteer position
Subject: Volunteer Position at FurNation Animal Rescue
Dear Dr. Smith,
My name is Evelyn Dane, and I am the Chairperson of the FurNation Animal Rescue Board of Directors. I am contacting you today to ask if you would be interested in volunteering your skills for five to 10 hours a week to help treat rescued farm animals.
Your expertise and skills would be a great benefit to us, the animals and the community. We hope to have the position filled by Friday, June 22.
Details about the position and the organization are attached. Please email or call me at 945-684-1532 if you have any further questions.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Board of Directors Chairperson
FurNation Animal Rescue
Email asking for help ordering a product
Subject: Trouble Pre-Ordering a Product
Dear Class Act Cosmetics,
My name is Jaime Collette. I am trying to pre-order the Rosie Rouge Palette, but the palette won't save in my cart. Is there a way to fix this issue or another way to pre-order it?
I have several other items in my cart, including another pre-order. I have also tried logging out of the website, refreshing the page, restarting my browser, clearing my cart and accessing the palette from your pre-order announcement email.
My contact number is 856-305-3486. I hope you'll be able to me help resolve this matter.
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