Asking for advice (junior edition)

Not sure why I called this “junior edition”. It’s meant to reflect the fact that while you’re encouraged to ask for advice at any point in your career, the thoughts below reflect my findings around getting asked for advice by people looking to start with something or enter a new/different line of work or industry.

This post is mostly a child of my frustration with how I am approached these days with requests for advice. I would also hope that this serves not as a deterrent from people who want to ask me for things/advice but as a guide for how to use my know-how to the max. Maybe I should have called this “How to use Bogdana for advice”… anyway, moving on.

Some of the things I find unproductive about young people asking me for advice include:

  • not knowing what to ask, asking for a chat but not having a plan
  • not having done any previous research to figure out their problem
  • having an unclear definition of their problem to begin with
  • being disorganised with the means to action off key things said in the meeting

Here’s a simple hypothetical (not very, but no names shared) example. Dad of recent graduate asks me to offer some advice to the recent graduate. I suggest to be put in direct contact, through LinkedIN. RG (recent graduate) adds me on LinkedIn but does NOT send any message. I have to message RG and explain that I’m willing to offer advice. They ask for a meeting and the only thing they are able to say is they’re interested in an internship or an entry-level position. I ask where and in what field. They don’t know. I ask who they’d be interested to talk to to find out more. They don’t know. I ask what their expectation of me is. They are unclear. We end the chat with me saying I’ll send some thoughts in a message. I fume for a couple of hours and then forget about it. No follow up from RG OR (true story) RG follows up 8 months later to say they’ve applied for a completely different job than their initial interests would have suggested.

So, you see, this is now the way to do it. The way to do it is:

  • Clarify what you want to achieve with the chat/meeting with the person giving advice BEFORE the meeting → they won’t have time to figure out your life for you.
  • Research the person giving advice to see if they are qualified to help with your goals → are they even the right person to be asking these questions of?
  • Set out a clear list of questions → if the questions are very general, spend some time researching common-sense answers BEFORE the meeting and ask for clarification; if questions are in depth, provide an overview of what you know so far so they don’t repeat things you’ve heard already.
  • Be direct with what you want → don’t expect the person giving advice to offer you options, if you want an introduction, ask for it; if you want links to trainings, ask.
  • Follow-up properly→ while the chat is happening, take notes and recap them at the end, clarifying who is to do what; make sure the person is comfortable doing the things you have suggested in the recap; follow up with a recap email and don’t be shy to set a deadline but do it “softly”
  • Keep it to 30 mins max
  • Say thank you.

I am always happy to provide advice on what I know. Reach out to me anytime. Just do your homework first. You’ll save me and yourself at least 30 mins.

PS: do you want to ask me something? Hit me up on Twitter anytime (@Bogdana )

Digital Strategist. The Internet will save the world (pending verification). Views expressed here are my own/should not be construed as coming from my employer.