One powerful prescription I urge – especially if you are in business development – is to make time each day for the habit of asking and helping.
ASKING: The asking part is a more commonplace. It’s about making sure that every day you build a list of people you want to ask for something valuable. Most likely this includes asking prospects about next steps, asking contacts for a referral to a prospect or to another biz professional who could open doors for you. Clearly there may be other valuable asks: you may have another product or service you would like someone to consider. Or perhaps you are speaking at or hosting an event and your ask is for them to bring certain guests.
HELPING: The ‘helping’ part I find to be rare. If people do it, it’s happenstance and usually sporadic. I’m recommending you schedule it as part of your day. And by ‘it’, I mean helping people beyond what anyone would expect from your day-to-day vocation.
It might include fabulous customer service but too often that’s subjective and it’s human nature to over-rate the service we provide others. I’m talking mostly about giving to key relationships in ways such as:
1. Making great connections for them (referrals) – who would they really benefit from knowing?
2. Sharing really useful ideas (and do this with prospects too: send them a few great ideas and say ‘I’ve got several other great ideas I’d like to share. Perhaps we can meet for coffee some time. Here are some good times: (then list dates/times)’
P.S. Doing this works MUCH better in individual emails than blast ones even though, yes, I’m sharing this to a large audience this time.
3. Sending personal communications such as a text asking someone what the highlight was to their week
4. Or, yes, truly great service.
This all begins with you asking yourself each day:
Who can I help? How can I most add value to this person right now?
I’m not saying this is easy but you already know that.
Why would you bother when you already feel busy?
Ah, good question! HELPING people helps you in these ways:
i. The Rule of Liking: When people like you, they want to say YES to you.
ii. The Rule of Reciprocation: When you do good things for people, they feel OBLIGATED to reciprocate.
iii. Be a Giver: they are at the TOP (okay, and the bottom) of every profession
The first two points are based on Robert Cialdini’s research and from his book Influence. Point 3 is from Adam Grant’s research and book Give and Take.
I’m a little cynical about the latter as it’s very easy for a college professor to dole out advice about giving and continuing to give when he’s not self-employed. However, I don’t doubt that there are people at the top who have fabulous reputations because they are very giving, and I have met people at the top who are matchers. Read on:
Why would you bother when you already feel busy?
A very short story: Having recovered (mostly) from becoming the father of twins at the age of 46, I resumed my networking habits about a year ago. Having spent the first 14 years in business networking as a ‘matcher’ (an Adam Grant term to describe people who primarily help others because they want help back in a tit for tat way), I wanted the rest of my business life to be at a more elevated level where goal one was to just plain see how I could be helpful to another person regardless of the other person’s ability to necessarily help me and my business. And that this would be done with the faith (and the dozen business and spiritual books I’d read on the subject) that when you do good things for people, good things often come back to you often from unexpected places.
What I found is that this was not hard-wired for me so I had to remind myself daily to put it on my radar, to stop my day and think about it, and gradually start a list similar to my asking list.
What I’ve learned in the past year is that a remarkable number of people at the top of their fields attribute much of their success to having “done a lot of favours for people that ultimately came back to them.” It is uncanny how often I have heard highly accomplished people say this. Most still have an urgency about them to keep up helping others because they know it’s been so good for them.
If you’re reading this carefully, you might wonder if what I just described sounds an awful lot like ‘matching’. You might be right certainly with some of the people I’ve met. Maybe ‘indiscriminate matching’ describes it where there is less of a timeframe attached. I don’t want to split too many hairs here. Some people call it ‘paying it forward’ and others dismiss this as naïve and unrealistic and just do a lot of favours for others.
The most important point is to make it a habit to help others. Helping others in general who move in relevant walks of life to you will help you a lot - so long as you don’t neglect the fundamental activities that keep you in business.
It is a leap of faith. It’s not a science. And you have to be patient – this is the hardest part. You can’t keep digging up the seeds to see why they’re not growing every day!
Nonethless, it is wise to track at least where your business opportunities are coming from. I’ve never tracked what I give out, but if you can find the time it would at least give you an idea about what has worked. People are terrible at keeping you informed about doors you’ve opened for them.
Lastly, goodwill feels good. How is this good for business and not just some useless touchy feely nonsense? It’s an interesting thing that you will feel better about yourself after you’ve taken the time to connect a few people in a quality manner. This then has positive knock-on effects on your next activities, it raises your confidence and makes it even easier to ask others for what you want. And I KNOW that the more expectantly you ask for something, the more likely you are to get it.
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Copyright Matt Anderson, 2017, author of Fearless Referrals: https://amzn.com/0071782877