The secret I wish I had known earlier in my career:
People (in particular older men) love to give advice.
Genuinely asking for advice is almost always met positively.
What asking someone for advice communicates:
- There is something about you/your career that I would like to emulate
- You are wise
- You are the type of person who helps others
99% of people in leadership roles would like others to consider their career worth emulating, that they have wisdom, and that they help others (this is true even for those whose actions typically communicate the opposite).
For most of us, asking for advice = tackling a paper tiger
Paper tigers: something that appears to be threatening, but is actually unable to withstand challenge.
If you are normal, you likely have apprehension in reaching out to ask for advice. Push through the apprehension! The risk is typically quite low.
“Do you have a half hour sometime in the next couple of weeks to grab coffee, so that I could pick your brain on how to navigate ____________?”
What is there to gain? 1. Advice (obviously) 2. An ally, I have found that once someone gives you advice, they are invested in your career (they want to see that their advice was worthwhile) and 3. A connection, this goes a long way in developing a meaningful network.
Related Note – Leaders don’t have time for:
Someone who whines, complains, criticizes – in particular if there is no solution/idea for change associated
Get out there and ask someone for advice!