Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Have the Courage to Let People Know What You’re Looking For

Most of us are brought up not to toot our own horn, as the saying goes. We’re taught that it’s not polite to “brag” about one’s accomplishments.

Unfortunately, we then allow this reasonable advice about “bragging” to be confused with the equally reasonable goal of “putting it out in the universe” when we’re looking for something specific.

What’s an example of “putting it out in the universe”? Most of us would agree it’s easy to ask a friend or even someone we just met for a referral for a good running shoe. We’re putting a request for information out in the universe with the hope of getting the answer we need.

Then why do most people tremble at the thought of saying to friends or people just met: “I’m interesting in talking with architects to learn more about their career paths. Do you know anyone who might be willing to talk with me?”

Both buying a good running shoe and talking to architects about their career paths are examples of “putting it out in the universe” and both are requests for information for oneself. Yet for most people asking about a physical product is less scary than asking for information that could help with one’s career.

In fact, when we ask people for information that can help us in our careers, we are giving those people the opportunity to feel good about themselves if they help us out. In most cases they won’t help if they don’t want to help, so you’re really not imposing on others.

Obviously, it’s important not to overdo requests of the same person. And the requests shouldn’t be outlandish. Yet if the request is in keeping with information that the other person may know, go ahead and politely ask your question. The career you help may be your own – and you could give the other person a well-being feeling of doing good.

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