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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


3 Top Tips When Asking For Advice

Whilst always remaining sincere ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 04/08/2021 @ 8:00AM

Many of us are in the business of giving advice. It's how we earn our living as consultants, trainers and coaches as we support other business people and individuals ...

When asking for advice our personal business community is key!

When asking for advice our personal business community is key!


And many of us are generous in freely sharing our knowledge and experience with our business contacts. But are we just as good at asking for advice?

"Getting the balance right between giving and receiving is key to forming strong relationships in life as well as in business!"

We tend to think of 'give and take' in terms of physical things, yet it's worth paying attention to the equity in our interactions too. So we take turns in paying for coffee, but do we also take turns in giving and receiving advice?

The little diagram I've shared today reminds us that what we get from our personal business community is as much about sharing knowledge and support as it is about referrals. The circles overlap to demonstrate this and also to emphasise the inter-relationship between the three.

I want to focus today on how allowing others to share their knowledge and support with you can deepen your relationship and motivate others to pass referrals to you.

"Your contacts gain from you seeking their advice as much as you do seeking advice from them!"

First of all, it's flattering to be asked. It shows that you trust their opinion and that will encourage the other person to trust you too. It enables the other person to demonstrate their knowledge and experience to you and equally you can test out their credibility. How good and pertinent was their advice?

Secondly, it allows them to demonstrate their support for you. It's only when someone helps when you're stuck do you really know that they are there for you.

One of the heartening things I hear all the time when asking people what they get from their network is that the support offered by others is always number one.

Whether you're a small business owner, or the MD of a larger organisation, being the leader is a lonely place to be. Why go it alone when there are others to talk through the good the bad and the ugly about your week so far?

Asking for advice can also stimulate direct business. When someone gives you advice about your business, they know they are putting their credibility on the line both to you, and often more importantly to themselves. They are more highly motivated to help you and to invest further in your success.

The level of advice can range from inviting them to sit on your board as a non-executive advisor, to act as mentor, or even just talk to you in the pub over a pint or a five-minute phone call.

Now I'm not suggesting that you just ask someone's advice in a cold and calculated way just to get them to introduce you. It needs to be done in the genuine spirit of collaboration. So I'm going to end this blog post with my three top tips for asking advice from your business colleagues.

  1. Choose your advisors wisely

    Ask the people who are successful and known to be knowledgeable about the subject. You genuinely want the best advice for your issue or problem. No point in turning to your friend who struggles with the same problem. What's the expression? "The blind leading the blind". However if your friend has overcome a similar issue it would be worth finding out how and who helped them?

    Equally, if you turn to someone for help or advice for an issue they don't know much about, you may make them feel uncomfortable. After all, from their perspective, their credibility is at stake. People often don't like admitting they don't know so always go to the real expert in that issue.

    If they are your advisor on one issue, take care that you don't expect them to be expert on everything else. You tax advisor may be excellent at tax advice, but useless on how to reduce the absence rate among your staff.

  2. Be prepared to pay for the advice

    Yes, it's flattering that you value their opinion, but not if you ask for free advice for something they usually charge their customers. I have heard several tales from people who network where they asked for an opinion from someone in the group and were shocked when they received a large invoice. Don't go all 'English' and avoid the subject, get it out in the open and until you really know the person well, I recommend confirming the arrangement in an email.

    Now smaller pieces of advice don't warrant that level of detail or formal payment, though do check, as what is small to you can be big for someone else. In such situations then 'payment' may be in terms of reciprocation. "Thanks for the advice, it really helped. What can I do for you in return?" or even more casually, "I'll get that" at the bar!

  3. Acknowledge their contribution

    Whatever the outcome, and whether you took their advice or not, then do let them know how their advice helped you. Advice is just advice, the decision on what to do with it is totally yours.

    If you paid attention to the first of these tips then you should be confident that the advice was valid even if it didn't work out as you wanted or if you chose to do something else. They, at the very least gave you another option.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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