Can I ask your advice?

Published on
June 29, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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Last week I had a short conversation with Jonathan Goldstein. You don’t know Jonathan. Neither did I. Jonathan is a recent college grad who was introduced to me via the husband of one of my colleagues.

Jonathan wanted to ask me questions about Actionable; how it started, where we’re going with it, and some of the challenges we’ve encountered along the way. He wanted my advice on how to secure a job with smaller, high functioning companies. It was a pleasant, 10-minute conversation that ended with me e-introducing him to someone I thought might be closer to his ideal space.

For context, I’m not taking calls right now. I’m heads-down-focused on a major development project and my next 6 months are pretty much spoken for. I’m not talking to any new potential vendors, sponsors, partners, etc. unless they’re directly aligned with my top priorities for the balance of the year… or unless they’re Jonathan.

Because Jonathan didn’t ask for anything related to the business, my network or anything that would feel like it would cost me anything. He asked for my advice. And rather than that feeling like a burden, it feels like an opportunity to create value.

When someone asks for our advice, they validate our experiences and beliefs. They make us feel good.

How many more doors can you open by asking for advice versus asking for anything else? How many more relationships can you establish? Not transactional one-off interactions, but the beginnings of true, engaged relationships.

I’ve never met Jonathan in person. He doesn’t play in my professional universe, and we may very well never cross paths again professionally. But I like him. I have a vested interest in his future and hope he’s successful in his pursuits. (and have little doubt of that, actually, given his approach to networking)

And here’s another interesting aspect of connecting on something beyond an immediate traction:

As a small business, I’m far more inclined to hire someone who crossed my radar in a deliberate and hustler way versus going to a recruiting agency or posting an ad on Monster. On paper, Jonathan’s not a perfect fit for Actionable, but when roles open up he’s going to be in the back of my mind. Simply because he connected with me; demonstrating curiosity, passion and a hunger to make a dent in the Universe. In a world where the Why of a business is becoming increasingly important, those in hiring positions are more likely (read: SHOULD) be hiring for aligned purpose. Aligned purpose is hard to glean from a resume.

For those looking to emulate Jonathan’s approach to networking, here’s a few key points from his approach:

  • He asked great questions. (he was genuinely curious)
  • He didn’t do a bait and switch (he asked for my advice on how to get on the radar of those companies he was interested in working for… which is exactly what he outlined in his original email)
  • He worked to my schedule (I’m in Spain; time differences can be tricky)

Find someone you think you can learn something from. Ask for their advice. See what happens.