In our previous post, we discussed how to seek out business advice and insights from successful and seasoned entrepreneurs and business experts online.

Success Not Included

While entrepreneurship is being increasingly sold as an alternative to traditional white-collar professional work and a path to wealth and success, the reality is that entrepreneurship requires a lot of hard work and business savvy, and success is certainly not guaranteed. In addition to the high hurdles that every entrepreneur must traverse on their way to success, most novice and would-be entrepreneurs don’t have MBAs or even undergraduate degrees in business. Without this formal education and study in business administration and management, you may be lacking some of the formal skills and education needed to successfully manage your own business, especially if it grows beyond a small startup.

Seek Out Information

Whether you’re seeking wisdom about the general direction of your business or more specific insights into managing a specific aspect of it, seeking out information, insights, and advice online has now become a fundamental component of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Knowing the right way to ask the right questions is paramount to gaining the information you need without wasting time or damaging your reputation.

Do Your Own Research

The primary key to asking questions of other entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professionals is learning how to ask the right questions, and the right questions are usually unique, insightful, and original. Whether you’re asking a question in a social media group, over a social media network, by email, or in person, you’re asking an expert whose time is valuable to spend some of that time on you, and most are hesitant or unwilling to take their time to answer an obvious question or one that can be easily answered through online research. Some experts may even become angered if they believe that you’re looking for them to do work for you, especially for free. It’s important to remember that in all of the methods we just described aside from email, you are asking a question in a public forum, and chances are that the answer provided will be beneficial to a larger audience than just yourself. Not only are you wasting the time of the recipient by asking an obvious question, but you’re also wasting the time of the larger group as well.

Never Demand A Person’s Attention Or Time For Free

When seeking out the advice of a business expert, it is important to remember that in most situations you are asking someone to assist you or provide an insight or piece of information for free. If the recipient fails to respond or refers you to a book, article, video, or seminar that they’ve published to find the answer, it is never a good idea to demand an answer or to take offense at the idea that the recipient is asking to be compensated for their time or expertise. An exception to this rule would be if you are already attending a paid seminar or conference, in which an expert, especially a contracted speaker, has volunteered to take questions.

Be Respectful, Patient, And Considerate

When you are interacting with a successful entrepreneur or business expert online or in person, it is important to always be respectful, patient, and considerate when seeking out information or advice. As we mentioned before, the majority of your online interactions will be public, whether you’re participating in a group, communicating over a public social media network, or in the publicly-accessible comment section of a blog. Very few spectacles are more embarrassing than being impatient, rude, or disrespectful in a public online forum. Remember, Google and other search engines will create a permanent record of your interaction, and an unfortunate exchange may still be easily found years or even decades later.