I believe that even in this world of technology, websites, and apps, the greatest resource we have is each other.
It’s of little wonder then, that people (entrepreneurs especially) are signing up for conferences and online networking classes, often priced at thousands of dollars, not because they care so much about the information being provided, but because of the opportunity to connect and network with like-minded people.
As with most things, the reason for this desire comes down to our core values. As human beings we want to matter. We don’t want to feel alone. In the words of Albert Schweitzer,
“We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.”
Even the most introverted among us deeply desires to be seen and heard.
But sometimes even though we want to reach out, we aren’t entirely sure how. No one wants to be rejected. But being rejected is always a possibility when we involve others.
So what is the next step?
As I mentioned as few weeks ago, when in doubt, offer to help. But connecting is a two-way street, and it’s also OK to ask for what we want. In fact, it’s more than OK. Having the courage to ask for help is a trade secret from the pros. Of course, reaching out, especially to strangers, and especially to strangers who can help advance our careers and dreams and goals is scary, but isn’t a missed opportunity even more so?
Here’s a quick story of how asking for what I wanted landed me a gig that led to Broadway:
Several years ago I was paying my bills as the stand-in for the actress Kate Winslet for a movie called Revolutionary Road. If you’ve never been on a film set, you should be aware there is an unspoken hierarchy about who can talk to whom and in what way. Some celebrities even demand that no one “beneath” them make eye contact with them. This is stupid. I really don’t care if you’re the A-List star or the PA, I’ll interact with you the same way.
Anyhoo, when it came time for re-shoots a few months later, I wasn’t available. One of the main actors noticed I wasn’t there and told his stand-in (a friend of mine) to have me get in touch. (He later told me he remembered how “nice” I was to him and his family, which is proof in the pudding to always be nice to everyone.) I followed up, we became friends, and a few weeks later he mentions he’s going to Los Angeles to do a play. This was followed by: You know, I think they are still looking for understudies for the two actresses. You’d be a great fit, and I imagine it would be difficult for them to find someone to play such different roles.
Cut to: Me emailing the casting director without saying anything to anyone else about it (Note: This is not how things are done in the acting biz! I should have been submitted by my agents, and been forced to endure auditions and call-backs). I sent the casting director a brief email offering to put myself on tape for the roles. She accepted. I was cast. I even got to go on for a few performances.
Long story short? The show eventually went to Broadway and I was very lucky to go along with it. To be perfectly honest, this is how most of my so-called business connections have been made: by simply asking for what I want from people who are in the position to give it.
Of course, this is easier said than done! So in this Thursday’s video, I’ll offer specific tips for how to ask for what you want, especially when you really really want it.
I guarantee someone somewhere has the resources to help you make your dreams come true and your stories come alive.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Your turn! Has asking for help been one of the greatest career decisions you ever made? Is there something you want to ask for help with, but you aren’t quite sure what to say? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!