You’ve probably been told you need to network, right?
It’s the fastest way to learn about job opportunities and get help finding your passion—and most importantly, it’s something that will literally pay you in the end if done correctly.
So after hearing all that, you’ve probably thought “OK, I’ll drag myself off and do it.” You grab your best networking shoes, paste on a smile, and prepare to start sending out some emails!
I’ve met people like you out in the world, because as a career coach I get contacted all the time by folks who want my help with a million different career-related things—so they think to reach out to me for some free advice, because after all, this is what I do, right?
Here’s the deal: Being a coach is my profession, so I have created and built paid programs for people who need structured and in-depth career support (and I’ve written free blogs and guides for people who can’t afford to invest in their career).
However, I’m a huge believer in the power of networking and sharing, so my team or I read every single request for help that comes in. We take all of your career problems seriously, even if you never become a client of ours.
But here’s the thing—I’m probably not going to help you.
Want to know why? (Of course you do!).
1. Your Ask Is Vague
I’ve been contacted so many times by people who want me to help “find them a job.”
These are people I’ve never met, or even interacted with, and they send me a random message with very little information.
I don’t know you, I don’t know your story, and I have no idea as to what would make you happy.
If you reach out randomly to me with no context, no information, and no easy way for me to say “yes” then you’re making it hard.
And chances are you’ll hear nothing in return.
If you don’t take time on your end to really think about what you’re asking for help with and why, then why should I take time to respond?
2. You Think Out Loud
I get long emails from people all the time, detailing their story and their hardships in a long stream of consciousness.
Often, at the end of it, they’ll ask one question: “Can you help?”
I feel for everyone who has had a tough time in their career, that’s why I do what I do.
But I don’t know you. And if I read your story and don’t have a clear idea of what you really need, then you’re making it too hard for me.
If you need my help with something, you should take the time to be specific, and thoughtful, and ask me something that I can at least understand.
In other words, don’t use email as a way of organizing your thoughts, use it as a way of clearly communicating what you need.
3. You’re Asking the Wrong Person
Before you reach out to someone, make sure what you’re asking for makes sense for them. (Don’t ask an architect for medical advice, is basically what I’m saying here.)
So think about the background and experience of the person you’re reaching out to—is what you’re asking something that they might be able to provide?
If yes, or if maybe, then go ahead and try.
But if you think about it and the answer is “probably not” then maybe don’t ask.
I hate it when people treat me like a recruiter and ask if I know someone at a specific company for a specific role. I don’t know the world! I’m a coach who specializes in finding your passion, not in job placement.
I have a ton of information out there that tells people that—if they would only take a few seconds to look.
4. You Don’t Give Me a Reason to Want to Help You
I’m human. So, like all humans I love feeling smart and wise.
I also love it when people flatter me, or show me that they value my input. (Did I mention, I’m human?)
Given that, people who reference my blogs or my work when they reach out, or show that we have a common connection, or are just polite, tend to make me feel smart and wise—which means that I’m open to helping them.
People who don’t do any of that?
Well, I’m busy. And I don’t have tons of time to help random strangers, so they fall to the no pile.
It’s brutal, but it’s true.
Listen, I appreciate that you took time to reach out—it’s never easy to contact a stranger or to ask for help.
Asking is hard.
But since it is so hard, make sure you do it right (this template will help with that). Don’t shotgun out impersonal notes. Do your homework and connect with me. You don’t have to be formal, or uptight, you can be funny or personal.
If I can see you’ve made an effort, then I know you will probably value my response and it’s worth my time to reply. And that means we both win, you get the help you need, and I get to feel smart and wise!
So now that you know what to do, it’s time to get out there and do it.
Need more help networking and a better job? Here’s an awesome free training about how to land a great job, just by growing your network. Don’t have one? Don’t worry! This training will show you how to build it.
Here at The Muse, we love introducing you to people who can boost your career. We are working with this contributor on an affiliate basis (meaning we earn a little money when you choose to use their services), but rest assured that we don’t just work with anyone. When it comes to articles like this, we chose to work with this coach not because she wanted a Muse byline, but because her advice was truly awesome. Here’s to finding the career of your dreams!