“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” – Zig Ziglar, Secrets of Closing the Sale, 1984
Last year was – interesting. We lived through a soft economy, the “fiscal cliff,” and various other frenetic financial fiascos. Now we’re in 2013, and most of us want to make sure this year is better than the last. One key to success is to help more people. “Duh! I know that,” you’re thinking. So let me say it one more time: One key to success is to help more people. The emphasis is on “help.” Not “sell more,” “advertise more,” or “market more,” but “help more.”
Before you have a heart attack, let me reassure you. I’m not saying that we should stop selling, advertising, or marketing. You’re going to do all of that, and more. What I’m saying is the foundation upon which to base all of the above is a desire to help others. According to Zig Ziglar, the more you do that, the more you’ll get what you truly want. So, as business owners and entrepreneurs, we need to figure out how to help people in a massive way. Where to start?
Take a Personal Interest
Sage advice written almost 2000 years ago says “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” That goes hand-in-hand with the counsel to be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others” (1 Corinthians 10:24, Philippians 2:4). If we apply that in a business setting, it means we need to put others interests above our own by taking a personal interest in them. Here’s why: You can’t help someone else unless you first understand who they are and what they want and need. The best way to do that is by sincerely engaging them in conversation that reveals those wants and needs. Then you can figure out how best to help them.
How can you do this on a bigger scale? The key here is interaction. You need people to open up to you. Therefore, engage them. There are many ways to do this. For example, if you use social media, get people to weigh in on a topic by means of a poll. Invite them to comment on something you’ve posted, perhaps even offering them something in return for participation. Sure, that appeals to the “what’s in it for me?” factor, but it also gets them interacting with you, and that’s the important thing. Let’s not forget the tried and true method of simply engaging them in conversation. Granted, this is more of a one-on-one approach, but it’s very effective. Additionally, the goodwill you create in a face-to-face encounter more readily lends itself to a person referring you to others.
Once you engage more people and find out their needs and wants, help meet them. This is where showing personal interest really gets turned up a notch. Sometimes you’ll find that what you offer does not help the person you’re working with. However, you know of something offered by another professional or business that does. What should you do? You guessed it. Help facilitate your prospect getting what he or she needs. Will that put money in your pocket short-term? Absolutely not. However, when that person thinks about the way you treated them, I guarantee they’ll happily recommend you to others, and that very likely will put dollars in the bank for you.
Put On Your Helping Hat
Nick Serba, former National Director for Small Business Plans for LegalShield, has a favorite saying: “Take off your selling hat and put on your helping hat.” That’s great advice. When you genuinely approach people from a helping standpoint, it can’t help but move you towards your business and personal goals (because that approach applies to so much more than business).
What, though, if you’ve been raised in the Gordon Gecko school of business. You know, the “greed is good” philosophy? Or your work environment is similar to that portrayed in Boiler Room? First, recognize that Gordon’s (and indeed any) attitude is a learned behavior. Heck, he was teaching it to others in that famous scene from Wall Street! You can replace any learned behavior with another one. Being genuinely helpful is a learned behavior. However, learning such an attitude requires time and effort. You may need to adjust your surroundings (the places you frequent and the people you associate with), but if you believe in the end result, the changes (and their inherit sacrifices) are worth it. You may also need the assistance of a coach or mentor. However, once you are aware of the need to operate from a different philosophy, change is not only possible but probable.
Some Miscellaneous Stuff
I’m here to help. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call at 646-340-8087. We can discuss your goals, talk about options, and help connect you with people and resources to aid you in becoming a more genuinely helpful person.
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