Following on from last weeks post about receiving feedback and criticism, it feels natural to lead into the topic of contributing advice to someone who has asked for it. Spoiler alert, you should only give advice when you’re an established professional with a proven track record of solving problems when you have been asked to.

The same applies from when I discussed giving feedback. Only do it when you have been approached.

Being approached and asked for advice is not something you should take light-heartedly. That person has asked you for a reason, they value your knowledge and expertise in that particular area they are asking about and believe that your input surrounding their current situation to be worthwhile, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked at all.

Firstly; you must imagine yourself in their current circumstance. What the potential results could be for them in whichever direction they choose to go in and determine if this is what they truly want.

Speaking fm experience thought, can be misguiding. As even if you explain what you did and how it worked for you, step for step, their situation is not going to be the same as yours.

Like working on a project, your advice aims to solve a problem, where you should begin by deducing all of the current directions that the project can go in down to just one, to solve the problem with the best possible solution, tailored specifically to that client. See the connection?

This is how a professional would approach a project to start with. By the time people (followers /listeners /readers) ask you for advice, you would have established your knowledge in a particular field and have proven your track record through your work and portfolio, otherwise why would they come to you in the first place.

You have already established your credibility before people come to you.

More than likely, the advice received through followers online will be surrounding your process, streamlining, something you have created or shared publicly, something on offer. It will be information that you have conceived or honed, something that will make the askers life easier.

But beware of misinformed information regarding others circumstances, it may do more harm than good and cause setbacks. It may not work for them as it did for you.

Know your role when giving advice. Is the person who is asking a follower, are they loyal to you and your brand? Do they interact with you online (comments /tweets etc.), have they bought merchandise or products from you in the past? Are they subscribed to your mailing list, podcasts or videos?

All of these are key indicators of loyal customers /followers.

Or is the person a blow in, someone who simply stumbled upon your work for the first time, liked what they seen and wants to leech valuable information from you to the benefit of only themselves without offering some sort of compensation (of sorts).

The wording that is used in the asking parties’ message is just as important as the asker. Are they just in it for a quick buck, or are they genuinely trying to better themselves and their process for the good of others experiences?

Remember, people will want your advice for a reason, you’re a professional, from whom people seek something you have that they don’t, this is valuable.

Evaluate people’s position, circumstance, and loyalty before fabricating advice to provide. Their circumstance will be different to yours.

Remain useful, remain relevant, remain pragmatic.