I recently had an interview come out that shared 5 tips that I wish I knew earlier in my career. The very first one I state is ASK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. I’d like to break down what I mean by that.
Often when people are on a new career path, they feel sheepish and unworthy because of lack of experience. It causes you to not want to take up people’s time coupled with the feeling that you aren’t worth their time anyway. That way of thinking is unhelpful and keeping many talented people stuck. After all…
WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE WHAT SOMEONE SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO WITH THEIR TIME? Let them make their OWN decision and stop doing it for them.
By assuming a “no” behind every door, you say “no” to yourself.
You take yourself out of the running for opportunities before you even get to the starting line. Let the other person answer the question for themselves. But that still means you need to ask the question.
Often, feelings of unworthiness lead to fear. Fear of the “no.”
“NO” isn’t nearly as scary as it is in our minds. There are 7 billion people in this world. Your YES is most certainly out there. If you aren’t asking for what you need or want, and going through no’s to get to yes, then you aren’t doing any legitimate looking.
The most FAMOUS and SUCCESSFUL people on the planet all talk about the sea of “NO’s” they have heard in their career. So if you are looking for success, and you are afraid of asking questions and putting yourself out there– then how can you expect to see that result?
Most of the time, “NO” doesn’t leave you any worse off than you are now. You didn’t have a yes before you asked, you don’t have a yes now. BUT! Through the laws of probability, you got yourself just a bit closer!
So what are you NOT asking for that could help you level up and become greater? Who could you ask to meet you for coffee? Who could make an introduction for you? Who could teach or explain something to you? Who could share a resource? Who could finance your project?
Practice dropping your fear of no with my 50 question game. Commit to asking 50 questions this month. Write them all out. They can be questions about your career, questions for important people in your life or they can be fun questions. The key is you need to ask ALL 50! And just know– you will get some yeses! It will be exciting which questions lead to great opportunities.
Some example questions:
- I am interested in your line of work. Can I shadow you in the office one day to learn more?
- I’m impressed by your career journey. Can we meet for coffee so I can learn more about your professional journey and ask your advice?
- I love this product but can’t afford it at this time. Do you offer payment plans or discount opportunities?
- I have a project you may be interested in. When do you have 10 minutes so I can share the details with you this week?
Important things to note when asking questions
People are busy! I believe people should be respectful of YOUR time and you need to be respectful of theirs. Don’t ask questions that google can answer for you or 10 minutes of research can solve. Tell the person in advance how much time you may need from them and hold yourself to that timeline. Keep things quick and easy for the ask-ee whenever possible.
A Smaller ask leads to an easier yes. For example, rather than asking someone to read a whole 90 page script, send a 3-5 page sample.
Be clear and succinct. Make sure everyone understands what you are requesting.
Do some wild card asks. I have reached out to people that I thought were “out of reach” and got responses. It’s incredibly energizing and can certainly happen.
Don’t plan on “asking” your way out of lack of preparation. If you expect people to help you, you also need to be doing your part to work towards your goals.
What will happen after you ask your questions?
Some people won’t respond. Some will say no. Some will say yes.
You get to practice hearing “no” and not freaking out and you get to see where a “YES” can lead you. You also start to combat any feelings of unworthiness. We are all just people trying to have a good life on this planet together! Stop assuming everyone is more valuable than you! You’ve got gifts to offer– own it! Ask some questions and get yourself out there!
Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection.
Many thanks for our Featured Image by Storm Seeker.