How can I help you?
You’ve probably heard this question a million times. How often is it genuine? How often does it come without a self-serving agenda? Rarely. It usually comes from someone who wants something from you. They want to take your order.
If you polled experts on the most important skills for career advancement, there’s no doubt the ideas you collected would include drive, vision, communications, networking as well as many of the topics covered in my latest book, The Road to Recognition. Generosity may not make the list. But it definitely should.
Being giving of yourself—helping others—is a major key to elevating your personal brand and accelerating your career. Generosity with your skills and time will catapult your success. Why?
- Helping others makes you a leader—True leaders are willing to teach, help others advance, showcase their skills, and learn from others.
- You activate your network—Helping others leads to opportunities. You send a message about what it means to be connected to you and your network is more likely to reciprocate.
- You grow—All your interactions have the potential to deliver personal and professional growth. Being helpful proves you are a team player.
You probably know someone who has a professional network that seems to be consistently opening doors for them that appear closed to you? It would be easy to pass off this success as luck – happening to know the right people at the right time. However, my experience has taught me that people create their own reciprocal luck by simply helping those in their network.
Offering to lend a hand is an intangible with an incredible impact. Helping makes you a leader – someone who is valuable for advice, making connections, being a sounding board and potentially hiring. True leaders become teachers who look to empower those around them and spread their knowledge, skills and experience.
Here are valuable assets you can offer your network:
- Offer Time Time can be the hardest resource to dole out and that’s why I suggest doing so productively. Block time to respond to emails and answer random questions. During your scheduled social media time, be on the lookout for conversations where you can add real value with thoughtful answers. When you’re working remotely or are open to office hours, let people in your network know, tell them where you are and that they’re free to drop by for a check-in or a hello. Use a calendar service like Calendly.com to create predetermined time blocks that you can offer to people who could benefit from 15 minutes of your time.
- Offer Your Expertise You could be a marketer, a researcher, in business development or just someone who has real world experience. No matter where you have expertise, you can offer very specific or even generalized advice to the folks in your network. Be on the lookout for questions on Facebook or other networking sites that tie into the field that you’re familiar with. Respond. Offer a conversation to go deeper. Establish yourself as someone who’s in the network to help and let them come to you.
- Offer Your Resources The lack of resources can be the biggest hurdle standing between someone you know and their goals. Do you know someone who could use an office to work from for a bit, benefit from the audio/visual equipment you have for recording your podcasts, or could seal the deal with a new client by using your company’s season tickets to an MLB game? Become a Go-Giver. You’ll develop a greater bond with your contact and they’ll actively seek out ways to repay the favor.
- Offer Access to Your Network My network is something that I’ve thoughtfully built over years of professional experience throughout various industries. Sometimes, I don’t have the answer or the expertise to help someone who I know, but I can point them in the right direction. When possible, offer to make connections. You’ll build stronger ties throughout your network and reward others with praise by identifying them as someone who you see as an expert on a subject.
At some point in your career, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of the unsolicited kindness of others, and I bet that it made an impression on you. Here’s your opportunity to make an impression on others. Add the practice of helping to your core values. One of my favorite quotes on the subject of helping is from the author Scott Stratten, “Helping others with your deeds, contributions and content is a wonderful business practice, so just do it. If you want to win allies and make meaningful connections, don’t call in favors. Be generous. You’ll get yours.”