A friend once gave me a gift card to a restaurant that he knew my wife and I enjoyed. This unexpected gesture meant a lot to me. He was acknowledging my help in referring some clients to his accounting practice.
I would still refer clients to him absent the gift card because I think he’s a competent professional who can serve his clients well. However, his kindness will help keep him toward the top of my list.
Doing “the right thing” and helping others in relationships isn’t always a quid pro quo proposition. Even in business contexts, we should often give, give, and give — even when we’re unsure when and if we will receive anything in return.
Don’t be like a narcissist for whom relationships with others are strictly utilitarian tools to get benefits for yourself.
On the flip side, if someone does help you, be sure to acknowledge this like my friend did.
Experienced executive search professional John Touey gives some gems of advice on networking and relationship maintenance: Stay in touch, be a source of information, provide referrals, and consider being a client for your contacts with relevant expertise. Don’t be one he describes as “that guy.”
““That guy” only reaches out when he’s lost his job. He’s eager to meet; he’s looking for referrals; he wants my knowledge of the market. He also seems to forget I exist the moment he finds his next job. I have a few of these in my network, but there is one who stands out. He’s a CFO who has been in transition three times over the last 15 years, and those are the only periods when he showed any interest in having a dialogue. In each case, we met, I helped and he landed, after which he didn’t return my calls or emails. He just landed again in the past few months, and the silence is deafening.”
Have you ever been guilty of this? I am afraid I have done so, and I am reminded that I need to reach out to friends and contacts in my network — even right now when I’m not actively needing their help.
Maybe I will contact one of them at just the right time when they need help from me. Maybe I will give them a helpful piece of info that can be useful for their profession.
Touey says, “My feeling is that if you put enough good things out in the world, good things will come back to you, often from unexpected sources. I don’t keep a scorecard when I help someone out. But I have to tell you, when I make a referral that leads to an employment opportunity, it’s annoying when I don’t get an acknowledgement of that fact. I’m not asking for business or a fruit basket. A simple “thank you” would suffice.”
I have seen this to be true from my experience. Give, give, and give. It’s the right thing to do. And be sure that your kindness will be rewarded in due time.
Which of your professional contacts can you reach out to today, unexpectedly, with helpful information? Look out for situations to provide knowledge and referrals to your friends. Everyone appreciates this, and you will reap what you sow in your relationships.