When someone comes to you and asks for some advice, do you ever turn them down?
In fact, you probably take it as a compliment!
What is the best way to approach a contact for help with your career?
Ask for advice?
I use this in a larger strategy called Asking for A-I-R.
First Ask for Advice
Let’s say you are looking to network into one of your target companies. You get one of your contacts to make an introduction. When you reach out to the targeted individual you immediately ask; “Can I have a few minutes of your time to ask some advice?”
Might they ignore your request? Sure.
Might they simply say no? Sure.
If they refuse to help you then they are probably a jerk. In that case, you do not want to talk to them anyway. Move on to the next person on your target list.
When you get some time with this individual you might ask for advice about getting hired at the company.
Secondly, Ask for Their Insights
- How do you like working there?
- Can you describe the culture?
- What is the management style in general in the company?
- What is the management style of your immediate boss?
- How is hiring done – referral, posting on a website, headhunters …?
If you think of any other questions please share them in the comment box below.
Ask for Their Recommendations
The step that many forget is to ask for recommendations!
- What should I do next?
- Who do you recommend that I talk to next?
- Can you introduce me to anyone that might help me in reaching my goal?
When you get a recommendation, you need to follow up, follow up and follow up. You keep the person making the introduction in the loop at every step!
I like to think of this as “sales closing.” As a sales person, you want to close each meeting. It is not necessarily to make the sale but to move to the next step.
What Can I Do For You?
The last step in this process is to always ask what can I do for you?
When I network, my philosophy is to be as helpful as possible and never expect anything in return. It is all about creating good karma. You do this enough and good things will come to you. The issue is you never know when good things will come back to you. They usually come back to you when you least expect it.
Asking for Advice Story #1
I like to tell the story of my son, who after graduating from college in 2006 was having difficulty landing his first job. He applied with a large employer in Sacramento, California. I instructed him to get on the Sacramento chapter website of the professional association where he belonged and to e-mail all of the Sacramento officers and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask some advice.
My son expected that this was a bunch of hogwash. No one will reply.
Much to his surprise every last one of them gave him at least 30 minutes, and he got a lot of great advice. He did not get the job, but he learned that when you ask for advice…. people will respond positively.
Asking for Advice Story #2
Recently, I had a client who was working on penetrating the headquarters of a large company in the Austin job market. She was introduced to the head of human resources through a contact. The next step was to pull out the magic word and ask for advice.
The head of human resources could have easily blown off the request but instead was asked if she wanted to come in for a cup of coffee. That coffee meeting led to a whole series of introductions that have not led to a position just yet but she now has a whole set of valuable contacts.
All because she used the magic word of “advice”.
Advice is the magic word in managing your career!
Do you ask for advice?