At some point in all of our careers, we need to ask for something – a job, a sale, a raise. For many people, asking is uncomfortable. For many people, it is uncomfortable because, except for experienced salespeople, asking is unfamiliar. Therefore, in order to master the ask, we need to practice asking. Barring a transition into sales, we need to ask for things on a regular basis. Here are some opportunities to ask:
On an annual basis, ask for a formal review. Ask your direct reports for a reverse review. Ask for a bigger raise. Ask for a promotion. Ask what you need to do to get a bigger raise and promotion. Ask your boss out to lunch just to catch-up. Ask for training opportunities – classes in conflict management, negotiation, communication, listening, and team-building help you master the ask, while making you a more valuable employee. Ask a trusted recruiter in your field how the market is doing.
On a quarterly basis, ask for informal feedback to position you for your formal review. Ask your industry colleagues in different companies about their challenges to keep you abreast of your market. Ask senior colleagues out to lunch to get information on the company and to attract potential mentors. Ask your boss for a preview of upcoming projects to lobby for the one that fits best with your career.
On a monthly basis, ask colleagues out to lunch to get used to networking. Ask a cold contact (e.g., a college alum, a writer from an article you just read, a newly promoted person featured in your trade journal) questions about their world. This will let you practice your information gathering skills. Ask direct reports for a status update and feedback on who’s interested in doing what, so you know what to delegate. Keep asking for feedback.