Over the past nine months, I’ve frequently mentioned how my father raised me to be financially literate. While I credit many of my finance lessons to him, my mother is the one who taught me the fine art of networking and “asking for the order.” She is a woman who can strike up conversation with anyone and knows how to work a room.
When I was growing up, my mother and I had a tradition. Most days I’d come home after school, or soccer practice or play rehearsal and tell her all the details of my day. I’d find her in her office where I’d toss my navy blue L.L. Bean backpack down and give her the overview of social dynamics, test scores and predictions for my upcoming sporting events.
One evening, during my high school years, I was complaining about some injustice in my privileged life. Perhaps I felt coach wasn’t giving me enough playing time or maybe I hoped to be selected for some honor at school. Regardless, I do remember my mom looking me square in the eyes and saying, “Sometimes, you have to ask for the order.”
Her point isn’t that accomplishments should simply be handed to you, but that if you want something, you need to ask. Ask both diplomatically, and politely, but ask none-the-less.
There have been many moments since that I have succeeded or failed based on my ability to simply ask for what I want.
Most recently, I’ve become a contributor for AOL’s DailyFinance. Several of my peers have inquired, “How did you get that gig?” I look them square in the eyes, shrug and say, “I asked.”
“Really?!” Is the most common response.
Yes, that is exactly what I did.
A few months ago, I happened to receive a tweet from the DailyFinance Twitter handle, suggesting I might enjoy some of their content. I don’t remember the exact link, but the tweet was just a general “I think you might like this…”
I knew this was my chance. So I responded, “Thanks! Are you looking for contributors?”
Next thing I knew, I had received an email from a deputy editor at DailyFinance which ultimately led to me giving a talk to AOL/Huffington Post interns about practical budgeting.
A few months later, I was asked to come on as a contributor.
A lot happened in between the first tweet and my debut post a few weeks ago, but I consistently stayed in touch with the deputy editor. I also asked him for an informational interview, which provided me the opportunity to hear about his career and also made me more than just a faceless person on Twitter. I’m quite certain he advocated for me behind the scenes, which is how I ended up being on a list of new contributors.
This example isn’t the first time in my life I’ve found success by asking for the order, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Asking for the order is a delicate part of the networking process and often one of the least mentioned.
Creating a network of professionals to reach out to is important, but people aren’t too likely to just hand you job opportunities. They might not even know you’re looking, unless you ask. However, this doesn’t not mean you should constantly be asking for jobs, that’s a quick way to get a bad reputation with your network of contacts.
If I hadn’t directly asked DailyFinance if they were looking for contributors, I highly doubt they would’ve just offered me an opportunity out of the blue. I’m one of thousands of personal finance bloggers who could’ve grabbed their attention and given them great content.
Perhaps, I’m just the only who asked for the order.
Do you frequently “ask for the order” to secure a job?