Adding Value to Others

I'm always looking for ways to add value to those in my network. It is extremely rewarding to do something for someone unsolicited and not seek anything in return. A recent post (Always Go To the Funeral) on NPR reminded me that, during the regular course of our daily lives, we may not have many opportunities to be a superhero. However, with just a little extra time, attention, and effort, we can have a huge cumulative impact on those around us. 

Here are a few things that I do regularly to add value to others. They cost nothing and provide the giver with a shot of oxytocin.

1. Introduce others. Silly. Simplistic, yet unbelievably effective. There is an uncanny power in bringing people together. As long as they know each other, they will have you in common. 

Introducing people in your network to one another is fraught with pitfalls and there are certainly ways to do it correctly. A few of the best I've read are from The Art of Manliness blog and The Double Opt In Introduction on making introductions virtually and with couth.

2. Solve someone else's problem. The problem with our own problems is that we can't see our blind spots. This can be done in several different ways...Maybe it's a delicate and tactful suggestion offered up in a nonjudgmental fashion. (I like Marshall Goldsmith's "Feed Forward" technique for this.) Better yet, make them believe the idea was all theirs.

I was on a call with a prospective business partner last month and we got to talking about different software solutions. I mentioned two that he wasn't aware of and that would be perfect for him. An hour after the call, I just happened to read an industry paper that I thought would help him make his case to potential clients and I forwarded to him. Both of these transactions cost me nothing but a few seconds of my day and I feel added tremendous value for him!

3. Build others up. Up until two years ago, when dropping my children off at school I would always offer them platitudes such as "Be Good", "Learn a lot", or "Listen to your teachers" . Now I simply say "Build others up". That is it. If they learn nothing else from me then I hope it is this piece of advice.

Help someone to believe in themselves when they need some confidence or self-efficacy and you have the power to change their lives for the better. 

4. Give some information. There are probably a dozen people in my network who have asked me about job placements, references, etc over the past few months. When I stumble on an opportunity that matches their skill set I take 30 seconds to copy the link and send it to them with a quick note. If I know the Hiring manager or recruiter personally, then I will take an extra minute or two and have them send me their updated resume which I will then send to the hiring manager along with a recommendation. 

If I read an article online which I believe is commensurate with the interests of someone in my network, then I am sure to pass it along with a quick note wishing them well. It is an effective way to share knowledge and keep one's network strong. 

This also helps me to become a better and more empathetic listener as I try to better communicate with others. With time being an ever dwindling commodity, it is a useful skill to be able to effectively synthesize what others are saying and identify ways that I can help them. Sometimes I'm able to help many months later based on remembering their specific pain points. 

By always looking for ways to help others, I have grown more likely to reach out and ask for help when I need it from others. Sometimes those others are perfect strangers and my courage (or audacity) to ask stems from a real or imagined social karma (like Covey explains) 

Countless others have helped me during my career and I intend to remain grateful and give back every chance that comes my way. 


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