Living Givers Gain With Your Professional Contacts

I first remember hearing the phrase Givers Gain from Scott Allen, author of The Virtual Handshake.

The concept made sense, as all good networkers should be giving, giving, giving, right?

I checked for a good definition of Giver’s Gain in wikipedia… their definition stinks.  I like what I found on the Duct Tape blog:

If you give business to another professional, you will get business from them.

It’s as simple as that.  If you GIVE, you will (or, I say, MAY) GET.

I think there are a number of factors here:

  • You should GIVE regularly. Not just once, and wait for it to pay off…
  • You should GIVE smartly. Don’t open your blackbook to anyone who comes along, don’t pass along referrals to people who you really don’t know, be careful who you are giving to, but once you have that confidence, give a lot.
  • You should GIVE without expecting/demanding anything in return. This is a tricky one… here are some thoughts:
    • DO NOT keep score or hold grudges. Many people just don’t “get it” and once they GET from you, they move on. Not because they are buttheads, but because they don’t know any better.
    • Know what you might ask for in return, or how the favor could be repaid. When someone says “Jason, how can I help you?” you really need to have a good response, with a way they could help.  Sometimes is stuff that they specifically could do, based on their position, power or relationships, and sometimes you just respond with a “shoot for the stars” goal that you don’t know if they could help with or not.
    • Be ready to accept their help, and act on it.  Have you ever offered someone help and they did nothing with it?  Like an email introduction that no one responded to?  It’s frustrating, right?  If they do help you, no matter how small, respond and express gratitude.  There may be more to come (if the trust level can build).

In my job search I remember an interview at one of my target companies.  I really, really wanted to work for this company, as they are the 800lb guerrilla in their space, the space was sexy, and I knew I could contribute and learn a lot.

During the interview all I could think about was a guy who I had met earlier in networking meetings.  The job was cool for me, but this guy was the right guy for the job.

I could have pursued the job, and I learned later that they pretty much decided on me (it was mine to take), but instead I told the interviewer that he really had to interview this other guy.  We could talk after they interviewed the other guy.

Long story short, this other guy got the job offer, and I was thrilled.  Not because I didn’t get the job, but because (a) the company got the right hire, and (b) I played a very small part in helping this dude, and his family, get back on their feet.

I’ve never heard back from him… not even a thanks… nothing.  I don’t really care.  I consider that one of those “he didn’t get it” things, but I know I did the right thing and it makes me happy to have given.

Will I GET from him?  Probably not.  But I believe in Giver’s Gain, and “what goes around comes around,” and as long as i keep giving I’m going to get more than I know what to do with.

Have you had any (positive or negative) experiences with Giver’s Gain?

7 thoughts on “Living Givers Gain With Your Professional Contacts”

  1. Jason,
    Great post. I’m one that absolutely agrees with what you’ve said. I had a similar experience with a job, though not quite your experience.

    A few years ago I contacted a VP in a different division at the company where I worked, having heard that he had an opening for a manager. I sent him an email, recommending someone that reported to me (in a management role at the time). I said wonderful things about my guy, and at the end of the note, I added a “P.S.” I wrote that I was interested in learning more about how the VP’s division was structured, what they were working on, etc. He invited me to meet with him for 30 minutes to discuss this.

    On the appointed day and hour I arrived. We introduced each other, went into a room and came out 90 minutes later. In that time, I learned about the division, the VP and had a job offer! I didn’t visit him with this in mind at all. Our conversation went really well, and I found out later that he had asked around about me and heard some decent feedback. I took the job.

  2. Roy, great story!

    As someone who constantly thinks about people with this question in mind “would I hire this person?,” I can tell you that your email, with good intentions, showed a lot about your own character.

    I would want you on my team, because if you’ll do that for one of your guys, I know you’d add tremendous value to my division, treat the customers right, not take all the glory, etc.

    So, I missed this point, but living Giver’s Gain is a great way to showcase your integrity (and other characteristics).

  3. Hi Jason,

    Wow, I needed to read this today. Recently I felt as if I’ve been doing all the giving. I think I was starting to keep track. Hey, I’m only human.

    After reading your post, I wrote to someone who has been really helpful and supportive to me. I told her again how much I have appreciated her support.

    The giving definitely feels good! Thanks for getting me out of my funk!

  4. I’ve found that if you consistently give of yourself whenever you can, it will definitely come back to you! It can be hard to not focus on your own needs when you’re in a desperate situation (like needing to find a job yesterday!). Keep in mind, people really want to help those who have helped them. Of course, this is not always the case with everyone. However, if you make a habit of giving, you’ll have more people than not willing to do what they can for you.

  5. Love the principle and I always add to it, something my Jamaican mother would say, “It is not who you give to, that you get from.”

    Giving really does come back and we might miss it, if we are focused on getting only from where we gave!


  6. thanks for your comments everyone 🙂

    @Marcia, you know what I love about what your mother says? To me, she’s saying “don’t prequalify WHO you are giving to, based on what they may give you back! Give because it’s the right thing to do.” Very cool.

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