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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2 thoughts on “Giving advice or giving away the store?

  1. My that was bold. I think the message that younger folks don’t get is that you have to put on WORK. Your contacts were EARNED. Those contacts particularly in the GR field are your bread and butter. Folks who operate like the one you described don’t last long.

  2. I’ll admit, her approach was rude and unprofessional. What she did was try to blitz towards establishing connections to get noticed rather than establishing herself so that others can notice and make connections with her, essentially building her own network. The latter is how you pave your way to success. Using a card-playing analogy, it’s show me the game so I can learn to play vs. show me your hand so I can play you.

    As an advisor, or consultant, the idea is to point people in the right direction or, at the very least, give them your professional opinion on the subject matter. You did right on your part.

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