Even if the asker doesn’t think about the request as a compliment, it is one: Clearly, they feel I’ve reached a point in my career at which I have something to give.
And I love giving.
Yet many people frequently receive favors—and never even attempt to give in return.
People starting out in careers and ventures may feel they don’t have much to give. They’re wrong. Everyone can find a way to contribute to someone else’s success:
- Can you take something off his or her to-do list?
- Does the person have a challenge you can help solve or a goal you can help meet? If she’s hiring, recommend candidates. If she’s selling, provide information about her target market or send a referral. If she’s raising money, contribute (if a charity) or help her get the word out to potential contributors (if for business).
- Can you send information on a topic about which she has interest—or which might help her in her work?
- Can you ask what you can give? Suggest a couple possibilities as conversation starters and signs of sincerity—and be open to her ideas. Often simply asking provides the simplest route to success.
Don’t get me wrong: Everyone should pay it forward and give without anxiety about receiving. I happily do both—as long as I don’t feel someone takes advantage. If I sense that’s what’s happening, I don’t want to give the person something—or receive something from him. I’d rather not associate with him at all.
Don’t want to seem to take advantage? Give when you can. Don’t just take.
At least try.