Get What You Need By Asking for Advice--NOT Help

If you need help from someone, anyone, you'll find that asking for advice instead of a favor/direct help is often an excellent way to acquire both.

When I was just a few years into my speaking business there was one particular company I very much wanted as a client. I was constantly frustrated in my attempts to reach a decision-maker because, in this case, the company was so large, it was extremely difficult to even find out who it was; not to mention knowing the correct approach.

Eventually, I learned of a person in a different field who had them as a client. I knew him only indirectly, and (based on several factors) felt that to ask him *directly* for help via a referral or personal introduction would be inappropriate at that time.

Instead, I asked him for advice. I said, "Tom, I understand that 'XYZ' company is a client of yours. I've been trying to get them as a client for some time now, with no success. First, please know that I am absolutely not asking you for a referral. I'm just wondering if you could give me some advice on how to go about learning who to contact in the first place and the best way to reach that person."

Well, Tom did much more than that. He actually introduced me to the decision-maker by way of a telephone call, and that company became a huge client of mine for several years. I truly believe that had I come right out and asked Tom for help, he would have found that to be presumptuous and resisted. But, since I merely asked for advice, he was all too happy to take the next step. Again, this works in all types of situations and, in my opinion, for two main reasons.

One is that people don't mind being asked for and giving advice but don't necessarily enjoy being asked to hand over the fruits of their years of hard work. The second reason is that being asked feels good. Most people enjoy feeling as though they might make a difference in someone's life so, when someone humbly asks for advice, they're only too happy to provide it.

Note: There are times when coming right out and asking for direct help is totally appropriate. The above situation just didn't happen to be one of those times. If you feel that is the case, then simply ask for advice.

Bob Burg's ( classic, "Endless Referrals" Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales (over 150,000 copies sold!) has been totally revised and updated. Purchase one for yourself and as a holiday gift for all the salespeople in your life. Never again run out of new, highly-qualified prospects. Purchase via or at your local Barnes & Noble.

SecurityMetrics for PCI Compliance, QSA, IDS, Penetration Testing, Forensics, and Vulnerability Assessment


Many of the 1000+ articles on Frugal Fun and Frugal Marketing have been gathered into magazines. If you'd like to read more great content on these topics, please click on the name of the magazine you'd like to visit.

Ethics Articles - Down to Business Magazine - Frugal & Fashionable Living Magazine
Global Travel Review - Global Arts Review - Peace & Politics Magazine
Frugal Marketing Tips - Frugal Fun Tips - Principled Profit
Why The Business Ethics Pledge Campaign
Clean and Green Marketing

Our Privacy Policy

Click here to order Shel's books on cost-effective and ethical marketing

This site is brought to you by Shel Horowitz,
Director of Accurate Writing & More--bringing you marketing,
writing, and career assistance since 1981.
(413) 586-2388

For information on reprinting articles from this site, click here.

You're also invited to visit our sister sites:
(ethical, cooperative, and profitable business success)
(How to have more fun and spend a lot less money)
(marketing, writing, and career services)

Social networking icons by

Disclosures of Material Connections:

Site copyright © 2000-2011 by Shel Horowitz