QUICK IMPORTANT NOTE: The e-book I’ve been mentioning over the last few months is no complete! Stay tuned as it will be released in just a week!

I received an e-mail from a young male fitness talent. He expressed zero interest in booking my team and I for a photo shoot – but instead asked if I could e-mail him what he needed to know to become a successful fitness model.

At first I questioned how long it would take to distill down and summarize a decade of experience on how to grow a career into one single e-mail so he could have a treasure map guiding him to success.

Instead I encouraged him to subscribe to my blog and digest the last three years worth of articles I had written on that very topic as well as go to my podcast and listen to the last 52 episodes we had recorded on the topic.

I don’t believe he actually did either as the subscriber rate for the blog and the podcast did not go up.

Perhaps he wanted the path to success to fit into a nice, easy, bullet-pointed summary or a checklist he could follow.

What was apparent was that he didn’t want to s[end the time to do either of my suggestions.

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from an amateur photographer who asked if I could give her some pointers. Now for those that know me – I enjoy talking shop with fellow shutterbugs. It is not uncommon for me to have Facebook chats, e-mail convos or even coffee (like I did last week) with photographers that reach out to me. Occasionally we also will have other photographers on set who want to learn lighting and the like. However, this photographer juts wanted pointers – although I was not sure what they wanted pointers about.

Thus I responded that I would be happy to answer any specific questions they may have about photography that I would know. They never got back to me.

Couple these two experiences with a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a writer. She works for a fairly well known media outlet in the fitness industry and was venting on how many strangers e-mail her asking if she could tell them how she got to work for the company she does so that they could do the same.

Now I am in favor of connecting with those you admire, look up to or want to learn from. A few times a year I try to connect with people I have a great deal of respect for. Typically it’s a well known photographer or a best selling author or perhaps even a serial entrepreneur.

But here are the following suggestions I have regarding contacting others you wish to glean information from.

1 – Be specific. What are you looking to know. Asking vague things such as “pointers” leaves the person wondering “pointers for what?”

2 – Tell them why you’re connecting with them. What did they do that resonated with you? What stood out to you?

3 – Do not ask, or expect them, to bestow a lifetime of career experience on you in a single e-mail. Chances are they will respond, if they respond at all, “I worked my ass off, took changes and didn’t waste time asking others for a road map – I suggestion you do the same.”

4 – Keep it short. Be respectful of their time and get quickly to the point of what you’re looking to know.

Good questions to consider might be: what advice would you give for… what was the inspiration behind… what major obstacles did you have to overcome with… what d you feel was the tipping point in your business… how would you handle… and so on.

Formatting your messages and questions in that context will increase the likelihood of getting responses that are helpful to you in your journey.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto