I never signed up for a Formspring account, but it has been a very popular thing. I cheated a bit by posting “Ask Me Anything” blog posts without actually using the service.
But the Formspring extravaganza says something very important to me — and it’s good.
People, in general, are very happily willing to offer their opinions if only you ask.
I grew up with a dad who was very good at “using his network” (as we say in Corporateland), and as his daughter, I hated it.
“My friend is in the ballet!” I’d say.
“Can she get us good tickets?” he’d ask.
Of course, every time I use my network (and at work, I do, ALL THE TIME), I remind myself of my dad. But I’m still hesitant to reach out on a personal level.
I’m looking to buy a new DSLR, am in Seattle, and know that Kat would know enough to guide me, but I’ve been hesitant to ask her to offer her opinion. In a cab to a camera shop on the other side of town, though, I realized what a big deal this Formspring is: it’s proof that people will offer a little of their expertise and experience if only you ask!
The irony is that when people ask me for my opinion, I’m flattered – and I certainly take the responsibility very seriously. In fact, when an internet friend asked a question via email, I suggested we could only do the question justice over a conversation – and then I polled my husband and thought extensively about it before we met BECAUSE SHE ASKED ME AND THIS WAS IMPORTANT, PEOPLE.
So while I know lots of folks have had bad experiences with Formspring, I think the more important message is how willing we all are to offer help — especially via an opinion — if only people ask us. I’m going to remind myself of that every time I’m uncomfortable reaching out.