Re: “Just Ask.” Advice copied from my inbox.

Curious how to license a product?

…email a product developer who is successful.

Want to know how a world tour works?

…email Katy Perry‘s guitarist.

Really, what’s the worst that can happen? Consider this, most of the time the “worst case scenario” is either not that bad or easily reversible. So the next time you want to gain some industry insights, track down a professional (usually through blogs, Twitter, or Facebook) and send out a short email with a thought provoking question.

(For the nerds out there: plotting out the ‘worst case scenario’ can also be referred to as practical pessimism)

Here is some advice I’ve gotten just by simply asking…

Audio Post Production Engineer on the Music Industry:

The music industry is increasingly the land of self-starters and entrepreneurs. As traditional recording studios disappear, the industry is more and more in need of professionals who can fill a variety of roles, from musician to engineer to accountant. My advice is to get a solid backing in business and marketing (both general and industry-specific), and get a solid technical foundation with an emphasis in self-education (as the required skill set in the music industry changes nearly every day)

Lawyer and Former Teacher on Life:

The other thing to consider is the fact that you may be competing for jobs during a troubling economic time. Anything you can do to make yourself more marketable (like a double major, or useful employment experience/internships) will help set you apart from other applicants.

One last thing…trust yourself. Listen to your instincts and you will find your way.

Executive Engineering GM on Management:

“…most people misunderstand what management is about. They think management is all about power and control.

My philosophy is to be the person who sets the vision, walks the talk, and really gets to know their people’s talents and skills. Getting the most out of people is something I enjoy, and take seriously. I also hold them accountable and would expect them to hold me accountable as well. Power comes from the ability to influence. If you can generate credibility and an open and safe to make mistake environment, then you will gain the power to lead. People will follow you, even if you have to be hard on someone because they are stepping out of line.

Screaming and yelling is not power, it is destruction. I have an open door policy and I am very approachable any where in the building and to anyone. I never turn down conversations in the hall even if it is about something outside of work. I really live to this value and it works very well. I work for the people and I never make people feel that they work for me. I love that openness and it really creates a great environment. I walk the halls all day long, and will talk to everyone. I even skip meetings if I am having a conversation.

Remember this, the people are the assets and they are the most important thing to a company…I am a nobody!

Entrepreneur on how to License a Product:

First of all I don’t call to “sell a product”, I call to license an idea for a product…I’ll give you an actual call example from yesterday:

  • working prototype ready
  • sell sheet ready
  • list of companies to contact ready

I called the first on the list (the one I thought was 1st choice) I called main corporate number and said; “Hi, my name is **** and I am a product developer. I have a product idea I would like to submit to your company and I need your help. Who in your company handles new product submissions? Receptionist replied; “That would be John So&So head of new product development.” I said; “Great, can you connect me?” She said; “Sorry, he is out of office today traveling.” I said; “Can you give me his email and direct number so I can call back later?” She did! She also said he was good about checking his emails while traveling and that I should try that. I did!

In this case I did email my brief pitch. (Normally not the favored approach) Happily, by this morning I received his reply requesting to see the sell sheet and also providing an NDA too sign.

This is how it works for me with trying to license ideas. This is the long answer to your question of “who do you ask to talk to”. The short answer is “just ask“.

And expect occasionally to get this:

Internet Entrepreneur on Opportunities

There are no opportunities available, I cannot offer any advice and I have no books to recommend.


Have any thoughts on networking or advice received through emails? Leave a comment!
See last week’s blog here.

Music Lessons to Networking Guru.

I am simply a part time guitar teacher. Nothing glamorous. I have taught children, five years old and up, how to pluck on some strings and learn a little music in the process since I was in high school.

You might say “great, teaching lessons to a twelve year old isn’t exactly being a networking guru.”

Alright, you might have a point there… but what do private music instructors, tutors, personal trainers, photographers etc. etc. etc. have in common?¬† All of us have insider access to some of the most successful families in the region without the need for a prestigious country club membership. Not only that, but we are being paid to network with these incredible individuals!

Here is a condensed list of professional contacts I’ve gained while holding a guitar: doctors, plastic surgeons, entrepreneurs, accountants, media directors, authors, lawyers, journalists, CEO’s, VP’s, engineers, executives, corporate buyers, real estate investors, restauranteurs, and franchise owners… just to name a few.

Just by teaching a few guitar chords, staying on task, and making sure that parents are seeing worth-while results, I automatically have more professional leverage than any career placement program at a university.

So how does this apply to me and what can I learn from this?

For us Generation Y’ers, we all have to remember that personal connections build lasting relationships. Do a little bit of research on the successful people around you. After all, you have to have a shared interest in order to network. Ask a few engaging questions to show your interest, then ask if you can meet up to talk more over a cup of coffee or (insert favorite beverage here).

Since I have been teaching, I have had the opportunity to learn about real estate, politics, investments, publishing, copyrights, business plans, and innovation… outside of the classroom and without joining any professional organization.

Just remember to have a genuine interest, be a good listener, and follow up with a thank-you email with a few insightful thoughts to keep the connection going.

What are some of your favorite networking tricks?

Who have you had the opportunity to network with?

What kind of advice do you have for Generation Y?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.