In my first year as a professional, someone handed me the book Go-Givers Sell More. Even on the surface, it had a great message: if you focus more on giving, you'll receive more in the end. As a young consultant, I quickly took the most surface-level message and failed to truly understand the supporting requirements. However, years later, I'm proud to say that I have grasped how to effectively be authentic, add value, and implement this mind set. (see the video below to get a quick summary of Go-Givers Sell More)
The "gift of giving" is really a double entendre: by giving, you can be rewarded with many gifts in life; however, it requires you to have a gift of giving for the right reasons. You can't give with the expectations of receiving. Nothing is more transparent and lacks the authenticity required to really establish the relationships that will eventually bring you the gifts you desire.
The Gift of Giving: A Double Entendre
For fear of any of my friends or contacts thinking that they've been had, I'm writing this truly as a reflection of how I've prioritized my time and an observation of what it has brought me in life. This is absolutely not an anecdote of how I got my network to work for me ... but use it as you will.
A Gift for Giving: A Mindset
I have adopted a mentality of open-sourcing my life. I strive to lend my experiences and knowledge to those around me free of charge; not because I expect something in return, but because I enjoy helping people and find great reward in influencing another's path. Here are some simple daily practices that I've enacted to maximize my giving:
- Open Calendar Rule: If I have time free on my calendar, I'm available to meet. Lunch, coffee, a drink after work. If it's something I do on a daily basis, why not be in the company of someone else. Never Eat Alone is a great book on this topic.
- Make Connections: I certainly don't have all the answers, but chances are the answers lie somewhere in my network of contacts. I am constantly looking for opportunities to make connections for people in the hopes that they can grow their network and get where they want to go.
- The Librarian: There's something that's very personable about the act of handing a book to someone, one that you've personally read, and recommending they read it to address a particular part of their life. Whether it's the fact that it's a physical gift or that it shows you were thinking of the person, I'm not sure, but it has always resonated with me personally. The door is then opened for that person to do the same.
- Information Relay: Every time I read an interesting article, I try to think of one other person that would find it equally interesting. This goes for all sorts of mediums, be it email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Not just a public repost or retweet, but a directed personal message.
While I'm sure there are other acts I can point to that help foster this mindset of giving (and I may even return to post more), these are the ones that are at the core of my daily activities.
The Gift from Giving: A Network of Support
Enacting selfless acts of daily giving will grow your network of support much faster and stronger than alternatives people think of when they hear the word "networking." As discussed in a previous article, When to Network, the key is to network now and always, not when you need to leverage your network for your own betterment. If you wait until you need it, it's too late. Those that you have helped in the past will not hesitate to help you when you need them; whether it's making connections or getting a recommendation, it's much more likely to come from someone you have reached out to than someone you have merely exchanged business cards.
While it is difficult to find studies that specifically address the benefits of giving to your personal network, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we can validate this theory by looking at some statistics of how it affects companies. Business Nonprofit Connections' “Do Good and Do Well” - The Four Business Benefits of Strategic Giving provides a great summary of such statistics; a small subset is provided below:
- 92% of Americans have a more positive image of a company that supports a cause they care about. (Cone, 2007)
- According to Fast Company, “Brands that engage people emotionally command prices as much as 20 to 200 percent higher than competitors’ and sell in far higher volumes.”
- A company's social, ethical, and environmental practices can make or break a brand name and affect share prices. (Financial Times, 6/2/2000)
Again, it's not a direct correlation, but considering the psyche of the consumer is likely the same type of people you engage every day, it's safe to assume it resonates in a similar fashion.
Beyond the eventual gifts that giving has brought me, there is a very real instant gratification in helping people. That's the greatest gift of all. Making that connection, seeing someone get the job, or just making someone's day a little bit easier would be enough of a rewards to justify the act of giving. Having it turn in your favor in the end and being able to leverage a network that you've built is just icing on the cake.
What are some of your thoughts on the gift of giving (either meaning)?