If you’ve ever given a gift, you know how good it makes you feel. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that giving makes us happy. Research by Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. Michael Norton shows a clear link between spending money on others and happiness. But money and gifts are just one form of giving. Giving of your time, energy, and connections can be just as rewarding. I’ve found as an entrepreneur, when I approach each business relationship looking for how I can give, rather than what I can get, the returns I receive are exponential. My business thrives, and I am happier and feel more fulfilled. Here’s how giving to grow and the power of reciprocity in business works.
I have to admit, I didn’t always think about giving in business. In fact, when I first started out as an entrepreneur, I often felt in competition with others. I was very concerned about making sure I was getting paid for everything I did. Trying to meet the goals and needs of my business were top of mind, and I wasn’t alone in this. Everywhere I looked around me in the business world, I saw this same behavior. Other than a sign up for my email list! freebie, I didn’t see many other entrepreneurs putting much effort into giving or supporting other business owners.
But something never felt right to me. I frequently felt icky, like I was being too salesy or pushy. I realized that I didn’t want to feel this way in my business. Once I started paying attention to and giving room to these feelings I was having, alternative ways of being as a business owner quickly began to emerge. As the saying goes, once the student is ready, the teacher appears!
The Giving Philosophy
“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” – Bob Burg
In 2020, I stumbled upon the wonderful little book The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John D. Mann. The whole premise of this book is how shifting your focus from getting to giving – putting other’s interests first and continually adding value to their lives – is the true key to business success.
A central premise tied in with this philosophy of giving is giving of yourself, and how you need to be yourself, authentically and truly, in order to do this. As the authors write in the book:
“As long as you’re trying to be someone else or putting on some act or behavior someone else taught you, you have no possibility of truly reaching people. The most valuable thing you have to give people is yourself. No matter what you think you’re selling, what you’re really offering is you.”
This concept was groundbreaking when I first read it, but I’ve found that it is so true with time and practice in my business! For a long time, I tried to keep my personal life and career separate. I thought that was what it meant to be professional.
However, when I began to bring my personal story of battling with a terminal disease into my business, things really began to open up and take off. I was inspired to offer more services and products that were in alignment with my personal story, including self-love coaching and classes. I accepted more speaking engagements. I am now serving more people than ever in my business.
Not long after devouring The Go-Giver, I was introduced to the business networking group BNI (Business Network International) which is based on the philosophy of Givers Gain. Members of this networking group focus on working to find business or referrals for other members, rather than just trying to sell themselves.
This approach requires taking time to build strong relationships with the other members and really getting to know them and their business. I joined as a member in 2020 and now serve as part of my local area’s leadership. My entire mindset around giving and receiving as an entrepreneur continues to expand as a result of being a member of this network.
Giving to Grow Your Business
There are many ways to give and add value for others. Here are a few strategies that I’ve found to be very successful and meaningful in my business:
- Each time I meet with someone, ask how I can help them.
When I have a meeting with another business person from my networking group or elsewhere, I make a point to focus on them and their business. I ask questions about them first and listen. I take notes. My goal going into each meeting is to make three connections for them that may help them reach their goals. For instance, someone who I think might need their product or service, or someone who might be able to give them referrals based on a shared client base.
- I always give people choices.
I want the clients that choose to work with me as a coach to feel like I am truly the best fit for them. As a business coach, I refer people to other business coaches all the time. When clients still choose me when faced with other options, I’ve found that they are more engaged, and they thrive because they don’t have doubts.
- I gift my time, products, and services to people.
This doesn’t mean I give away everything all the time. That would obviously put me out of business. But I do gift things to individuals that I meet who I feel strongly about. I have gifted business coaching sessions to entrepreneurs who I really believe in, but who are financially unable to afford my services at the time. I have gifted attendance to my classes and workshops.
I do these things without being asked. I just offer. These acts of generosity really move people. When doing this kind of giving, I always make sure to set a parameter around what I am offering. So, it is understood exactly what I’m giving, how much, and for how long.
- I make celebrating and supporting other entrepreneurs part of my business model.
A great way to give to others is to create a platform where they can gain exposure for their business. I do this by organizing conferences and hosting a podcast with my business partner, and by hosting a monthly class for entrepreneurs called Building Business with Soul where I feature a guest speaker.
The Benefits of Giving
In the short amount of time I have been practicing giving as a business model, I have seen incredible returns. My acts go out before me. I am top of mind with people I know because I am always trying to help them. They want to help me and refer me, without me even asking. I am trusted and have deeper, more meaningful relationships.
These are just some of the benefits of integrating giving as a central tenet of your business and your life!
Are you interested in ways you can give to grow your business? Schedule a free business strategy session with me today.