We recently bumped into a delightful post on a blog run by Karin Schwartz, founder of a D.C.-area business development firm called Springboard, serving the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, federal civilian agencies, state and local governments and the commercial market, from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
We wrote to Karin to ask if she’d mind our reposting her piece here on the Scrapbook, and she replied moments later saying, “Absolutely … and I love the book—it was eye-opening. You gave me the refocus I needed to change my business!”
We especially loved this line: “I was forced to face the facts about my own altruistic intentions like a child who’s just realized that the tooth fairy isn’t real.” We told Karin that if the whole business development consulting thing didn’t work out, she should consider a career as a writer. (Kidding. It obviously is working out.)
Self-Evaluate: Are You a Giver or a Taker?
A few months ago, I read Bob Burg and John David Mann’s Go-Givers Sell More, the follow-up to their national bestseller, The Go-Giver, a work aimed at inspiring individuals to shift the focus in their lives from getting, to — as the title suggests — giving. Applying this concept to the workforce, Go-Givers Sell More emphasizes the importance of generosity in business transactions. As I perused its pages, I was forced to face the facts about my own altruistic intentions like a child who’s just realized that the tooth fairy isn’t real. When I did, I realized a troubling truth: I had become a taker.
As someone who runs a company that’s a part of the sales industry, I have a business that depends on introductions. When I stopped to really think about the current state of affairs at Springboard at that point in time, it occurred to me that for some reason, my referrals had come to a screeching halt. It was time for me to accelerate into high gear and drive my business forward, but before I could, I had to seriously evaluate what was going wrong with my business.
It’s easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle of daily obligations and tasks, and I had certainly fallen into the habit of so doing. I had become so busy, focusing on clients, family routines, and checking off my day-to-day to-do list that I had forgotten to incorporate one crucial element into my life: giving. Whether you want to call it karma, cause and effect, or something else entirely, Burg and Mann have gotten it right: receiving without reciprocation is bad for business.
I made the decision to make a change and make it my mission to give. I started building connections and providing introductions that I had promised in the past but forgotten to follow through on. I used my Motorola Xoom tablet to make connections on social media networks on the spot as I’m interacting with people in person. I seek out reasons to establish meaningful relationships with more and more people around me.
But intentionality has a lot to do with the outcome of your endeavors, I’ve learned; you can’t have a quid pro quo attitude, constantly expecting equal exchanges from others. Instead, you must focus on acting purely for the sake of helping others, without selfish goals in mind. If you’re hoping to give merely to get, then you’ve overlooked the thematic issue in this post entirely. Here’s the thing, though: once you give without expectation, you will get back. Since realigning my focus, I’ve received introductions and opportunities I never thought possible. And for every two introduction I make, I get back at least one.
If your referrals have dried up, take a page from Go-Givers Sell More and make it a point to give business opportunities away to others.