Why Did You Ask Me To Join Your Project?

After asking someone I’ve know professionally for 10 years to join my project, she hit me with this “why did you ask me to join your project?”

This caught me off guard, and I was quite taken back by the question. In all the projects I have run, when asking someone to join I usually get one of four answers:

  • I’d love to.
  • Yes, this suits me when can we start?
  • No I can’t due to other conflicts.
  • No I can’t due to not being interested in it/comfortable with my skill-level and what you’re asking me to do.

No one has ever stopped to ask “why me?”

I started to explain my thinking to her. I said what I thought of her experience and how I saw it helping the project. I had seen her grow as a business person and felt that she could bring a lot of insight to the project. She was also very good at explaining complex situations that were unfolding in the industry in a way that was easy to grasp. These were the reasons I thought she’d be excellent for the project.

To this she responded “you mean if I can help by explaining xyz, and then give some advice how to handle those situations, this is the way I can help?” Yes. Oh, she didn’t really have a grasp of how much her experience could help others. She didn’t seem to think that a lot of the skills she had acquired through the years were “skills”.

She agreed to join the project.

Afterwards I got to thinking about the conversation. At first I was annoyed by the question…”why me?” Upon further reflection I started to think about it differently.

Your Skills
When I approach someone to join my project, it makes sense to me because I have done a lot of thinking about what skills/experience I need and who I know fits with what the project needs.  Before approaching someone I’ve been living and breathing the researching and planning of the project for a while.  Too, we can see each other’s strong and weak points better than they can.

So while it may naturally occur to us to get “Bob” to explain the deepest technical product because he is so good at analogies, Bob may not realize this skill “which comes easy to him” is a skill at all. Sometimes folks don’t know how good they are.

Start With Why
This question will help me in the future. Instead of my pitch of  “here is my project, here are the parts I need, here is where I think you fit in, do you want it?” I’ll be more aware of explaining “here is what I am thinking of you for and here is what I see you can contribute and here is why I chose you. ”

People may not be aware of the skills they poses. For me, I was not aware that my ability to organize projects, events and programs was such a big deal. To me it was common sense and a “thing” that came easy to me. Until it was pointed out that yes, this was a skill, yes it was needed, and no, not everyone can do this I didn’t see it as a skill. I now do.

Despite my initial annoyance about being asked “why me?”, it turns out, like most situations to learn from, it was good timing and I’m happy I was awake enough to get the lesson.

How do you pitch people to join your projects? Has anyone ever asked why you chose them to join? What did you say?

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