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The Importance of Asking for the Order

   Posted On: October 23, 2013  |    Posted In: Career  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

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.

Mom with Snake
This is the type of woman you take advice from. Fearless.

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? 

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44 responses to “The Importance of Asking for the Order

  1. Erin, that’s awesome!!!! Congrats on the new gig, and I totally agree with you about needing to ask. In fact, Rick just got a well-deserved 10% raise, one that he would’ve never gotten if he hadn’t asked, over and over again. Two or three times during the past two years, he asked his boss for a promo and an additional raise in pay, and this fall it came through. He was expecting 6%, but they gave him 10!! All because he asked for the order. 🙂

    1. Good for Rick! The worst someone can say is “no” and I wasn’t going to lose anything by sticking my metaphorical neck out there on Twitter.

  2. I remember when I called my landlord to asks to reduce my rent a little bit. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask, and he did! There are things I wish I would have done sooner but just didn’t because I was too afraid to ask. I mean, why not?!

    1. Rent is a great one to ask for the order on. If I get hiked next year, I’ll certainly be trying to negotiate.

  3. This is a great reminder to not be afraid to ask for what we want whether it is a job, a discount, a promotion, etc. The worst someone can say is no. There is a Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Good for you for taking shots!

  4. Congrats! That shows real initiative to ask for what you want and I think it’s a great lesson we all can learn. It’s important to be confidant in yourself and asking for something you feel you deserve is one way to exhibit that quality. I’ve also heard of this advice being given for interviewees. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, ask for the job. It’s a ballsy move, but you will undoubtedly be remembered!

    1. That would be a gutsy move. I could see it being effective on a younger boss or manager. Could really backfire or truly impress!

  5. Great advice. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. Your mom is a smart person. I think often times people complain about a situation or wanted an opportunity, but never asked. Many just assume that if they are good at something or work hard, then they’ll be handed the opportunity…that happens sometimes, but sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.

    1. Thanks, Andrew!

      After all my side hustle talk lately, I’ve started to get particularly annoyed by friends who complain about no money and then complain that it’s too hard to get a side hustle started.

  6. I think you have mentioned a very valuable tool; one that I am not very adept at utilizing. I am an extreme introvert and it is really hard for me to do things like “ask for the order”. However, it is something I am working on improving and your story about AOL gives me more motivation to do so.

  7. That’s so awesome that you reached out to them! I think most people expect companies to reach out to them, or publicize an opportunity and then they can apply. I’ve often thought if I was a full-time freelancer that I would need to remember to simply ask. Ask companies, individuals, anyone if they need my services or if they know of anyone looking for my services. Before you know it you can quickly have a full schedule and consistent pay. Congrats on getting the gig, but it sounds like you earned it!

    1. Thanks, DC!

      Good point about people expecting companies to reach out. And if a company does publicize, you can bet they’re getting a lot of applications!

      I do agree, that FT freelancers have to do a lot of pitching themselves.

  8. Love it, Erin! You do have to ask for the “order”. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable at the moment but I feel more uncomfortable when I regret not asking for the order. Being told “No” is never fun but at least I can move on to the next opportunity with a clear conscience.

  9. I think a lot of people don’t ask because they’re scared of rejection. I was scared to ask to guest post on other blogs at first but I sucked it up asked thefirst person and ever since I have never been rejected.

    1. Good for you, Romona! Rejection is certainly the scary part, but in some cases there isn’t too much to lose.

  10. If you don’t go ask for the opportunity, you’ll probably miss it.Just sitting dandy and expecting someone to pick you up doesn’t work that well. Good example of what can be achieved with some assertiveness.

  11. Congrats! I totally agree. This year I had to learn some lessons and that was one of them. I am naturally a shy person, but I realized if I don’t ask I don’t get.Great post 🙂

  12. Asking for things would be an area of mine that I need to work on. So far in life, I have usually managed to get ahead by my work ethic and pursuing opportunities when they arise. There may come a time thought when I need to start creating my own opportunities. Congrats on the writing gig.

    1. A strong work ethic and pursuing opportunities when they arise are of course an admirable way to do things.

      Just don’t pass up the chances by not asking!

  13. This is something I’ve absolutely learned to be true over the years but am still uncomfortable with at times. It absolutely works though. People too often assume that others will somehow know what you want, but how? I think many people would be surprised at how willing others are to help them if they simply ask in a reasonable way.

    1. Never being entitled to an opportunity is a good way to reasonably ask! Folks do seem happy to help, but don’t want to overstep by just offering without being asked.

  14. Congrats on the new gig! And this is great advice. Especially when it comes to the workplace. If you want to move around in the company, want a promotion or simply want a raise, sometimes you just gotta ask!

  15. Erin, what a dynamic post. I absolutely love this. Asking for the order is something that I’m not afraid to do.

    I would go so far as to say it’s a requirement for success of any kind. Having the confidence and courage to say what’s on your mind, to ask for what you want, and perhaps deserve, is a requirement for success.

  16. Great advice! I think it’s so easy to be frightened of stepping up and asking for things, but really, what’s the worst that will happen? They’ll say no. You didn’t have whatever it was before. Even if you slightly miffed them, if you were polite in the asking, I think they’re very likely to get over it.

  17. This is a great post and it’s totally true. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish by just asking. I asked for my new job, and even though they weren’t considering remote workers, they eventually went with me, which I 100% credit to straight telling them I’d love to work for them.

  18. Such simple advice! I think sometimes the hardest part is to know what to ask FOR or HOW to ask. I am often afraid for asking for things that may be out of my depth. For instance a few years ago I managed to score a job in government (fluke!) and a non for profit CEO had heard the good things I had done and asked me to apply for a job with him. I honestly didn’t believe I was capable of doing the position with minimal experience, but luckily he believed in my potential. I took the position (and pay rise) and ended up surpassing his expectations.It was such a confidence boost. I don’t think I would have taken that leap without the offer but maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself…. great article!

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