Imagine you’re the head of a Fortune 500 company. Some random person got a hold of your email, and begs for the chance to fix the accounting problem plaguing your CFO. How are you going to react? Probably by pressing delete or mark as spam.
It’s much more powerful (and respectful) to get someone’s attention through action. What if, instead of asking for the opportunity to help, this random person outlined the steps he would take, and welcomed you to utilize the document whether or not you hired him? If his work is excellent, you might reach out to him, or at least forward the email to your CFO. Best of all, the conversation now has a collaborative tone instead of a petulant, sales-y vibe.
For a real example, look at Bill Stiritz:
Late in the process [of looking for a new CEO at Ralston], a lesser-known candidate—a longtime company man who was not even the lead internal candidate[emphasis added]—improved his chances dramatically when he submitted an unsolicited memo to the board outlining in detail his strategy for the company. After reading it, influential director Mary Wells Lawrence (founder of the Wells, Rich, Greene advertising agency) telegrammed back, “bullseye.” Within days, that candidate, Bill Stiritz, had the job. -Excerpt from The Outsiders, by William Thorndike
Stop asking for the permission of others to hone your craft. Let the quality of your work speak for itself, and stomach small, meaningful failures in search of disproportionate success.