Though it’s not as popular or well-known as his Harvard commencement speech or the 2007 presentation of the first iPhone, this old 90-second video of Steve Jobs is my absolute favorite:
“Most people don’t get those experiences because they never ask.”
I have found this sentiment to be 100% true. When it comes to reconnecting with old colleagues or classmates, reaching out to industry leaders for help, or taking a risk and connecting with someone brand new, most people are often too embarrassed or too shy to pull the trigger.
When I find myself in these situations, I always ask one question: What’s the worst case scenario?
In Steve’s case, Bill Hewlett could have told him, “I’m not giving you any parts and stop calling me.” Would he have been disappointed? Sure. But he would have been no worse for wear.
In my own experiences, the worst case scenario is very often “nothing”. Maybe I send an email to an executive that doesn’t get replied to, or I reach out to an old connection and they either don’t remember me or don’t respond. For every one that does, it’s worth the dozens that don’t, because there’s no reason not to try.
And just like Steve Jobs says in the video, I have also always found that when you ask, people are generally happy to respond. This goes for making introductions to other LinkedIn connections, giving career advice, helping with a project, or with whatever else you may need assistance. You have to believe that other people are willing to help you the same way you would be willing to help another person if they asked.
It never hurts to ask.