By Nance Rosen
There is one word that will undoubtedly get you on the way to that job interview, or a meeting with a prospect or referral source – even a potential investor. This magical word will work for you when you use it in person, on the phone, in an email subject line, a text or a social media message. It's that good.
There's a caveat of course. You can't just hurl this magic word or use it disingenuously. You can't demand, cajole, nag or otherwise be irksome. You have to really mean what you're asking for, with all your heart.
The magic word is "guidance."
The caveat is that you must have honest curiosity about the subject – and no tinge of entitlement, irritation, or frustration. When you approach someone with a request for guidance, you may be expressing a bit of self-doubt, concern or just feeling unsettled by something you have experienced. You might even have a smidgen of hope or optimism in your tone. But, you can't have or express any intention of taking advantage of the resource (the person you're asking) or take a hard turn toward asking for anything more than guidance (for which you might prepare a number of questions that you really want answered).
Guidance – even more than advice – implies that you have specific questions or a problem that you can describe but can't overcome on your own. Guidance means you have an ardent desire to sit with someone more experienced or with a broader reach than you could possibly have on your own.
Think of guidance, as mentoring's little brother. What's particularly amazing is that you can ask for guidance from complete strangers. And even more fantastic? It's nearly impossible to get turned down. Of course, being humble, patient and grateful would be the winning trifecta.
It really is that simple. Here are some examples.
- "Would you be able to give me some guidance on solving a problem I'm having?"
- "I'm kind of stuck right now, and I'm hoping you might be able to give me some guidance about my job search."
- "There's something that's a bit of a mystery to me about working in this industry, and I wonder if you could give me some guidance on what I might be missing."
- "I've taken a class in your field of expertise, and I'd like to ask you for some guidance about how I could begin to approach a career like yours."
- "I hope you won't mind my asking for some guidance from you."
So this magic word "guidance" is a huge door opener. It can be a game changer for you because it's so respectful and deferential; the object of your request might go way beyond answering your question. You may get a whole lot more. By that I mean, they might take you on as a cause, get you introductions and land you exactly where you were most hoping to go.
So use the word guidance with all due respect, and get the yes that can change your life.
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