Recently I was having a conversation with one of my daughters about what it takes to get ahead in life. It was a deep conversation, that as parents we are sometimes lucky enough to have with our children.  After the conversation I found myself thinking about what it takes to get ahead in life and in business.

I suspect most of you would agree that hard work, commitment and a dedication to excellence are requirements. And sometimes a little luck comes our way as well…never a bad thing.  But what I believe is that we also need to leverage who we know and learn not to go it alone.  Strong statement when we taught that asking for help somehow demonstrates weakness and that using your connections to open doors is likened to being in the mob.

But we don’t have to go it alone or ignore those around us that we know can help us. Let’s be honest, having someone you know make an introduction for you can be incredibly helpful.  If your friend, partner or colleague can introduce you to someone that forwards your career or provides opportunities you would not have otherwise isn’t that a good thing?  You don’t have to fear that you are getting something for nothing or something you don’t deserve.  While someone may make an introduction or put your resume at the top of the pile, only you can demonstrate your value and move the ball forward.

I want to give you a couple of personal examples to demonstrate my point. Many years ago one of my daughters wanted an internship with the CIA.  We have a close friend who at that time held a very senior position at the CIA.  He took my daughter’s resume to those involved with internships.  She did get the internship and before she left that summer they had offered her a full time job after college.  Did this friend secure the internship for her?  Not likely.  What I suspect is that when it came down to a couple of applicants who looked similar in education, background etc. his recommendation pushed her to the top of the pile.  She however earned her job offer during her internship.

A year ago I conducted a sales training workshop for an organization. I met the president of the company at a conference I attended with my husband many years ago. Did I get the opportunity to conduct the workshop because of my husband?  Only in the sense that I would not have met him had I not attended the conference.  I earned the work however through my own efforts of follow-up, conversations and offering value even when there wasn’t a direct benefit to me.  The referrals he has sent my way I earned because of a job well done.

The point is don’t be afraid to ask others to help you by making introductions or contacting someone on your behalf. We live and work in communities and meet hundreds of people throughout our life that would be honored to help us.  All we have to do is ask.  Next time you think someone can help you in some way ask them.  The likelihood is you are giving them a gift as people truly want to help.

reblogged from the Incendo Group blog.

BY Linda Finkle