By Jim Wong, CPA | July 20, 2016

“Don’t be afraid of asking questions, be afraid of not asking the questions.” – Jennifer Hudson

Whether you are at the beginning of your career or have been a part of the workforce for years, there are generally times when we all need to ask a question. Questions regarding software, new technologies, interpersonal issues and more seemingly tend to pop up. What is most important, though, is knowing how and when to ask the right questions.

For accounting, finance and IT professionals, you may initially think asking a question will appear to be a weakness, however, understanding the benefits and importance of asking questions is essential for any professional’s growth. Not only does it show a sense of curiosity and a desire for furthering your knowledge, it also shows courage to admit when you don’t know an answer.

This is something my colleagues and I discuss often—the importance of asking questions that will benefit you and help you attain personal and professional goals down the line. That’s why, when I saw an article on Forbes that discussed the importance of asking meaningful questions in the workplace, I decided to discuss this topic further.

Learn 5 Ways to Ask For Career-Advancing Advice below.

1. Know your strengths. 
In this day and age, there are many ways to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Whether it’s through 365-assessments or through the StrengthsFinder assessment, there are certainly ways to learn what areas you excel—or don’t. Knowing these characteristic about yourself is the first step when it comes to knowing when to ask for assistance or guidance. Use various tools and resources to increase your productivity and performance, as well as your ability to ask for help.

2. Try to find a solution first. 
Instead of immediately asking for help, try to figure out a solution first. Not only does it show that you have the patience to work through issues independently, it shows that you are competent and are determined to find resolutions. It also shows the person whom you are asking that you’ve thought through various thought processes.

3. Narrow in on a question. 
Helene Lollis, president and CEO of Pathbuilders suggests that, “Questions that are too open-ended will rarely net you ideas for specific actions and could cause you to appear unfocused.” It’s important to ask questions that hone in on a topic—it shows your focus and ensures that the people helping you will be able to provide the best possible answer or resolution for you, rather than a convoluted response.

4. Build strong relationships. 
As the writer of this article states, the best way to get help is by developing authentic relationships with others from the start. It goes without saying but your colleagues and peers will be more likely to help guide you when there’s already a solid foundation of a relationship.

5. Find a mentor. 
This ties in closely with my previous point, building strong relationships with your connections is a terrific way to advance your career; be it through networking, asking for guidance or exchanging knowledge with each other. Finding a mentor to collaborate with and have an open dialogue of questions and answers can be beneficial to you, at any stage of your career.

These are only a few of the ways that you can further your career by asking the right questions. Do you have other suggestions? Comment below and let us know!

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