Giving advice or giving away the store?

I value the opportunity to give back and pay it forward. Most recently, it has come in the form of giving advice to younger professionals looking to start or develop a career in government relations. Within the last three weeks, I’ve received no less than four different requests to discuss my career and offer any tips on starting out. I don’t mind helping. However, I’m starting to wonder if advice is the only thing people want from me.

Let me explain. I recently had a phone conversation with a young woman who was very anxious to start her GR career. We talked about what she was currently doing and what she wanted to do. I offered to look at her resume and gave a couple of resources. Five minutes later, she asked, “Can I just connect with you via LinkedIn so I can access to your contacts and ask them for a job?” In my head I was like, “Sure. While I’m at it, why don’t I also give you my ATM pin and the keys to my house?” The amazing thing? She was serious. When I politely declined, she ended our conversation.

It’s one thing for a job seeker to ask you for a couple of people to reach out to. It’s another to ask you to hand over your professional network. I like to help because I had a number of informational interviews when I started my career. However, when I asked for advice, I was respectful of the person’s time and willingness to help me. Now that I’m in the position of being asked for my assistance, I find that some people expect me to spend all of my spare time helping them find a job.

Look, we’re all busy people. When you ask someone for advice, be aware that something is being put on the back burner for you. Be respectful of that. If you’re being asked for career advice, be realistic on what you can deliver. Don’t feel pressured to find someone a job or get them an interview if you can’t.

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Looking back, looking forward

As we begin a new year, we often reflect back and determine what we’d like to see in the new year. I’m no different. It’s kinda hard to describe 2013 in simple terms. It wasn’t a bad year for me. I turned 40. I traveled to Hawaii for the first time. I had my first learning lab at ASAE annual. I dove head first into the wonderful word of Android (surprise!). I witnessed friends and family succeed beyond expectations. However, I also experienced being lied to, manipulated and passed over. My work suffered a bit during a particularly stressful time. I gained weight (sigh). I didn’t blog as often as I would’ve liked to. I nearly lost personal and professional relationships that were dear to me. I made choices that in hindsight were stupid.

Even if I could go back and change some of what I experienced, I don’t think I would. For I’ve probably have learned more about myself this year than any other time in my life. I learned what I’m capable of and what I still need to work on. I have some very specific goals for 2014. Some I will share. Others I will keep close to the vest. I will make you this promise: this year, I will return to regular blogging. I will have at least two posts per month.

I’m optimistic for 2014. I’ve decided to leave a lot of anger and resentment in the past and move forward. I’m excited about upcoming trips and opportunities I’ve been presented with. I also look forward to sharing my thoughts about advocacy, DELP and other topics with you. Thank you for reading my blog in 2013 and I hope you will continue in 2014.