The Wall Street Journal Sunday August 21, 2011 edition had an interesting article by Ruth Mantell entitled “No Market for Lazy Job Seekers.” It contained some great career advice on finding a job. She said, “Given the steep competition for jobs, people who are energized and organized – and those who avoid lazy mistakes – are the likeliest to land a job.”
What are the lazy mistakes? Glad you asked. Ruth lists five of them…
- Asking only what your network can do for you.
- Using a stock resume.
- Misusing social networks.
- Outsourcing your job search.
- Asking hiring managers to do your work for you.
This is some great career advice on job hunting — especially in today’s digital world. All five of these are good mistakes to avoid, but I want to focus on number 1 – “asking only what your network can do for you.” Tweet 128 in my career success book Success Tweets says, “When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.” You’re also more like to create the life and career success you want and deserve.
Networking is all about meeting new people and building relationships with them. Most people focus on what the people they meet can do for them. My best career success coach advice is to do exactly the opposite. As Ruth Mantell suggests figure out what you can do for others first.
In 2009 I participated in a writing project with my colleagues at the Creating WE Institute. We published a little book called, 42 Rules for Creating WE. The rules were short essays that contained a lot of great career advice. I contributed three rules. One was called, “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.” This rule goes directly to the idea of focusing on how you can be helpful to the people in your network. I’d like to share the career advice in this essay – with a few minor edits – with you here.
WE is built on relationships; the idea that we are all connected, and that through a WE-centric, rather than a traditional I-centric approach, our collective wisdom grows and evolves. This kind of thinking creates stronger organizations and societies. It fosters mutual shared respect for the unique contribution every person is capable of making.
Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are at the core of WE. Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to create these types of relationships.
This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you. While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo. It is reactive not proactive. Too many people wait for others to go first. They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.” This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE, or building strong relationships. When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have. This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.
On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality. When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe. You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.
Giving with no expectation of return is ironic. I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources. But that’s not my reason for giving – and I hope it is not yours. The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.
I love the Liberty Mutual Insurance “responsibility” ads. They are a very visual demonstration of the ideas behind creating WE – especially giving with no expectation of return. You’ve probably seen them.
They begin with someone going a little out of his or her way to do something that benefits others; picking up a piece of trash, opening a door for another person who’s hands are full. Another person observes this and goes out of his or her way for someone else. The cycle repeats several times during the ad. The message is clear. We are all better off when we help each other.
Giving without expectation of return not only helps you create a WE-centric culture, it helps you build strong partnerships. Larry Agresto is a WE-centric guy. He says, “Truly successful people never compete, they network and leverage their relationships by providing value and giving more than they receive.”
In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance. If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo. If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world and create the kind of strong, mutually beneficial relationships that will help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.
I choose abundance and paying it forward. I agree with Winston Churchill, who once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” When you give with no expectation of return you will get a good life. You’ll also get a better world; one in which we all look out for one another.
I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago, I was seated at a table with the groom’s mother’s college best friend. As it turns out, she works in the health care industry. I do a lot of consulting and career success coach work in that industry. Her husband was recently retired and starting a consulting business. He told me that he was having some trouble getting things going. I offered to chat with him and share my experiences in getting my consulting business off the ground all those years ago.
I did this to help him. And I sincerely hope he can become a successful entrepreneur. I added two people to my network that night. But I chose to pay it forward – focusing on how I can help the guy who is starting a consulting business, not on his wife who is a potential consulting client. As Ruth Mantell suggests in her article and I suggest in Tweet 128 in Success Tweets I chose to concentrate on the person I could help, not the person who could potentially help me. This is counter intuitive, and at first glance may not seem like common sense, but I think this life perspective can help you – and me – create our life and career success.
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Successful people are adept at building strong relationships. They understand and use the career advice in Tweet 128 in Success Tweets. “When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.” This is paying it forward and the opposite of quid pro quo. When you go first – give of yourself to help someone else, with no expectations of return – you are laying the foundation for a successful relationship. When you wait to reciprocate a good deed by another person, you are engaging in quid pro quo behavior that usually results in lost relationship opportunities; although it is still better than not doing what you can to help another person in their career success journey. Do yourself a favor, follow this career advice when it comes to relationship building – pay it forward.
That’s my career advice on paying it forward. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained. It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.