When you need help, look to your web of people

*Post 8 in the 30 Posts in 30 Days Challenge

I’ve started a new project recently that requires me to learn how to use a tool I’ve never encountered before. Learning something new is always exciting.

What’s challenging is troubleshooting – trying to solve problems in a world you’ve never been in before. Usually when I’m stuck I end up Googling and Googling until I find an answer. The beauty of the Internet is that someone out there has probably created a webpage about exactly the solution you’re looking for. The problem is that you might have to go through hundreds of webpages to find it.

However, what’s even more useful help is simply someone who already knows how to navigate that environment. Why? Because not only can they solve your problem right away, but they can explain it to you, and answer your questions.

It is almost always much faster to learn from an individual than to learn from a book. Think about the last time you had trouble with math. Was it easier consulting a textbook or asking a friend? Chances are you immediately asked a friend without considering a textbook.

The same goes for so many things outside of school. The fact is that learning from someone who actually knows that field is just way easier and more helpful a lot of the time.

However, the reality then is that your help network is only as big and as diverse as your social network is. The more people you have that you can ask, the more likely you’ll find your answer. And the more diverse your network is, the more likely you’ll be able to find someone who can solve your obscure problem.