4 Ways to Get Expert Career Advice Without the Fuss


There's been an outpour from seasoned professionals criticizing newbies that ask to pick their brains in exchange for coffee. These moguls complain that their time is money, and they're right. Time is an invaluable asset, but the arrogant undertone of these posts have become downright annoying. Let's be real. Every single one of us had to start somewhere. A $3 latte is not compensation for your time. It's a small gesture, a thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with those who aspire to become exactly like you. If you're trying to break into your industry or grow in your career, don't become discouraged by these types of responses. Instead, here are four resources you can tap into today to connect with ambitious, helpful, successful people who are more than happy to give you advice!

Offer something in return (other than coffee)
Wait, huh? You're a newbie. What can you offer? A LOT! You're smart, ambitious and even if you aren't an expert yet, you're good at something. After returning to work from maternity leave, medical bills from my high-risk pregnancy left my family in a horrible financial bind. I knew it was time to step up my game in the social media arena but I didn't have the extra $60 to shell out for the e-book I wanted. I contacted the author, explained my sad story, and instead of asking for a free copy of the e-book, I designed a SlideShare presentation for an article she was working on in lieu of payment. Perhaps I could have offered my skill set in exchange for 15 minutes of her time instead?

Online Communities
There's a plethora of online communities you can join to connect with industry experts. As a Social Media and Digital Content Strategist, I love Facebook Groups for building relationships and networking. Savvy Business Owners and Tuesdays Together are a couple of my personal favorites. This all boils down to a whopping cost of free-99. Career and Entrepreneur Blogs usually offer private group options and most of them have migrated to Facebook. The One Woman Shop is a great tight-knit community of both aspiring and successful womenpreneurs. I managed to snag a membership during their Pay What You Want promotion. What better way to invest your latte fund?

Clarity is a community of over 30,000 verified experts that offers strategic business advice at their per-minute rate. Optimize every minute and have an agenda going into your call. Toss the old tired "How did you get started?" questions. What's important is, they are a beast at doing exactly what you aspire to do and they're making a comfortable living doing it. Ask them for feedback on your existing plan (you do have one, don't you?). Ask for strategy feedback.

Coffee App
Okay. Back to the coffee. There are companies like Treatings and Coffee The App that matches users based on skill set and interests in your area. You can use these tools to meet other professionals not only for advice, but for collaborations. Think outside of the bun! If you're a writer, why not connect with someone SEO savvy and a graphic designer, host a free workshop, tap into each other's network and together offer clients a full online service for their business or organization? If you choose to host the workshop at your local library, this can all cost next to nothing, and then you can use your hard earned three bucks to buy YOURSELF a latte!

Be creative. There's so many nontraditional routes to your destination. Opportunity probably won't knock, you'll have to get out there and create the opportunity you wish to have. An often overlooked tactic is to not only tap into seasoned professionals, but also fellow newbies. Oftentimes they are a goldmine of unique methods you've probably overlooked.

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