Here’s something you can use immediately: think of two or three questions that will improve your business (or life or whatever), and ask these questions at some point when meeting new people.
Asking the right question to a handful of people (or to a dozen people) gives you a lot of value. Three or four years ago, I asked a question at Gnomedex to some of the attendees: I keep getting asked out for lunches where people pick my brains. Is consulting basically just telling them my fee after they ask me out to lunch? Answer: yes. With that, I started making money for what I know. One question: instant money.
A little while later, I started asking what people got paid to speak professionally. From there, I could judge my experience to theirs, and decide whether or not I could charge more or less than them. Now? I’m a professional speaker, and I know much more than my fee, because I know what I do that other speakers don’t normally do, and so I add value in that way.
What Kinds of Questions Should You Ask?
Ask open-ended questions that tap the person’s experience. Ask questions that will give you things to consider, not solid answers. Ask questions that will lead you into a bit more research, not a solid and final definitive destination.
Who Should I Ask?
For instance, when I had small business structuring and tax questions, my first good conversation was with Joe Sorge. When I had some glancing real estate questions, I started with Maya Paveza, and then a few others. In all cases, I asked questions that I knew the person could fill me in some parts of my puzzle. Not all, but parts. Remember: if you ask a carpenter how to improve your business, she’ll tell you to build. If you ask a lawyer, he’ll tell you to protect yourself better.
What Should I Do With the Answers?
Never take anything as gospel. Instead, consider yourself informed. Take the answers, mash them into your own thoughts, and then move forward.
One Last Bit
Always thank people for their advice. Whether or not you use it, it’s really important to thank people for their time and their advice.
Questions are Powerful, Don’t You Agree?
There’s one more trick to all this: people love being asked for their advice and opinion. They truly do. I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to share just a tidbit of help. That’s why I spend an hour or two each day in Third Tribe Marketing, helping where I can. It’s why we all do.
I end lots of my blog posts with questions. Have you ever noticed that? Why do you think I do it?
Photo credit eleaf