Allow me to set the stage:
I walk into a large hotel ballroom. A lot of people are standing around. Some are talking. Some are handing out business cards. Some are quietly tucked away in a corner. And others are stuck by the continental breakfast and coffee bar. I look around and make eye contact with a stranger. I smile, walk up and introduce myself. We talk for a little while, get to know each other, and close our conversation by exchanging business cards.
The next day, feeling energized by the handful of business cards on my desk, I follow up with the folks I met and spoke with the previous day.
Fast forward several days. Zero responses.
This is typically how the large-scale networking events pan out. People attend these events, collect business cards, and are satisfied believing they’ve “grown” their network.
Since I’ve attended my fair share of networking events throughout my professional career, the time had come to reflect on my technique. I challenged myself on my mindset going into the events. Was I seeking something from others? What did I have to offer? What value was I adding to total strangers?
Paul Zelizer, a business and marketing coach to entrepreneurs, states, “In these uncertain times, a business owner with a generous heart is a gift. It will really help you stand out from other entrepreneurs who are more focused on strategies, tactics, and ‘charging what you are worth.’”
Webster’s dictionary defines generosity (n.) as “a readiness or liberality in giving”, and mindset (n.) as “an attitude, disposition, or mood.” Therefore, if someone is to have a generosity mindset, they must possess a willingness and attitude to give.
In today’s 21st-century workforce, leaders must have a generosity mindset if they are going to succeed, thrive, and grow long-term networks that add value to others.
When I began my journey in the business world, I met Ryan and Joleen Doktorcyzk – who are affectionately known by their tribe as “R Dok” and ”J Dok”. From the second I met them, they were a giving couple. They found joy in helping others succeed. They shared their wisdom, expertise, and network so others could also prosper.
One day as I observed them, I began to think: How are they different? Why are they different? What can I learn from them?
As I got to know them, I realized it had taken years to learn and grow into who they are today. They’ve experienced successes, failures, setbacks, and disappointments just like everyone else. But one thing has fueled their hearts, lives, and networks – their generosity mindset.
Generosity requires M.O.R.E.
Through the teachings of the Doktorcyzks, I’m encouraged to utilize a generosity mindset in my personal and professional life. But how does one establish a generosity mindset? Establishing or changing to this mindset requires you to do M.O.R.E!
…including humility to realize that you can’t do everything on your own. There are times when you need to enlist the help of others. Do you have the maturity to ask others for help? To ask for a connection? Are you wiling to put business aside to genuinely add value for someone you just met?
…and listen. When attending networking events or out with your social group, observe how your peers are acting. What are they are going through? What are their needs? As you listen, consider how you can help them. How can you add value to their lives, even in the smallest way? Explore your “mental rolodex” and find someone with whom to connect this new acquaintance.
…must have the highest priority. As my wife often reminds me when I head out to networking events: “See them as a relationship before you see them as a client.” I used to prep for networking events energized by the thought of new contacts and potential meetings. These days, I go in with a different attitude. I think to myself, “How many people can I help and how can I add value to their lives?”
Engage, Equip, Encourage, and Empower
…others. When you meet someone for the first time at a networking event, engage them immediately following the event and ask for a follow up. R Dok calls this “BAMFAM” – or Book A Meeting From A Meeting! When you do reengage, ask questions and listen. Learn how you can equip them with a new business idea or connect them to your network. How can you add value to their life?
In his article, CV Harquail writes, “When we are able to give to others, we become more productive and engaged, enriching our own lives and the lives of others at the same time.” Establishing a generosity mindset is essential to achieving long-term success in business and life.
Who have you helped this week? How are you adding value to the lives of others? If you don’t know where to begin, consider doing M.O.R.E. as a solid starting point.