A couple of years ago, I read an awesome book co-written by two authors, Bob Burg and John David Mann. It was entitled Go-Giver, The: A Suprising Way of Getting More Than You Expect and was an unusual book in that it is published primarily for a business audience, yet it is written in a fictional story – almost parable style.
If you’ve not read the book, then I highly encourage you to do so – it’s an easy read and inspirational too.
The Go-Giver Philosophies
I won’t spoil the story for you, but there were five key values that you can come away with:-
- Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
- Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
- The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
- The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
This book really struck a chord for me. For many years I’d believed in striving to deliver great service not only to clients, but to anyone I came into contact with – hoping to leave a great positive impression upon them that they’d remember me by – remarkable, you might say.
Be The Connector
Additionally, I’d always looked to be a connector – introducing people to one another, even when (or especially when!) it would be unlikely I’d do business with either of those people directly.
Plus, of course, I’m a believer in the power of social media – writing blog articles, using Twitter and LinkedIn – providing information that I hope will be of value to others. Or as one person, another IT provider locally to us who didn’t “get it” told me – “Giving away all your trade secrets!” :-).
Reading “The Go-Giver” book validated to me that thankfully I wasn’t crazy, that living your life in this way does have a genuine purpose that can be understood – and that is, whilst you don’t undertake these activities looking for a direct return, that in the grand scheme of things human beings naturally look to help others who help them.
Don’t keep count
It’s not as obvious as simply “returning a favour”. For instance, I know I’ve made many more connections and referrals for people than I’ve ever received back directly (or even been thanked-for), and I’ve written many more LinkedIn Recommendations than I’ve ever had given to me, but that I’ve been fortunate enough to be provided with some amazing and often huge opportunities over the past few years, many times from people I’ve never helped out directly or that I don’t know well, but who have read my blog for a long time, or have connected with me thanks to an introduction from someone else.
In a nutshell, I love the fact that a system based on human good nature really does work!
Of course, this isn’t for everyone – for me, it’s the lifestyle that I find a most naturally comfortable and rewarding fit for me – but for many other individuals I’ve heard the question “What is the Return on Investment (ROI)” of all this?
The best examples of answers to this difficult question can be given by my friend Jeremy Epstein over at his blog “Never Stop Marketing” – where he talks about Community Driven Marketing and how in the modern world it trumps “old school” marketing – and my favourite analogy, that of “Santa Math” from Seth Godin – (go and read it, I’ll wait here).
BNI says Givers Gain
That said – I have recently become involved in BNI – a breakfast business networking group – which works on the motto “Givers Gain”. Admittedly it’s a bit more of an artificial environment for creating relationships and passing referrals, but the theory is still somewhat similar – that if you spend time looking to provide great value for other people, that value will find you too – albeit in this case, through business referrals from other members of your group.
I’ve heard truly polar opposite opinions on BNI, for some people it works incredibly well, and they receive lots of referrals, but for other people, they simply don’t “get it” and therefore don’t get involved.
For my own part, the BNI groups here in Birmingham that I’ve been a part of have struggled to grow, as we couldn’t find enough people who “get it”. The reasons for not getting involved I’ve heard from people range from “It’s all American clap-trap” (great to see that the US-UK “Special Relationship” is as strong as ever!) and “It feels forced”.
Smaller is better?
I know that a smaller group of focussed “Go-Givers” can work – BNI has many successful established groups that I’ve visited and the IT peer-group HTG is essentially a group of “Go-Givers” in the form of IT providers helping one another out on a very close level. I think the answer may be closer to the fact that people who think predominantly in a “Go-Giver” way perhaps aren’t in the majority amongst us on a day-to-day basis, and so it can be difficult to organise groups of such individuals on a local level.
And that’s why I love the Internet and Social Media. The world is a huge place, and people of a like-mind tend to seek out one another, so the ‘net makes it much easier to connect with people who share the same values as you. Even your chances of finding like-minded individuals locally increase, as thanks to the exposure of the Internet, the chances of finding somebody who both shares your values *and* lives locally to you are increased.
I’ll continue to try to be a “Go-Giver” and after reading Go-Giver, The: A Suprising Way of Getting More Than You Expect will continue to recommend the Go-Giver way, as it’s just what I feel comfortable doing, but I’d be fascinated to hear people’s opinions on why local groups such as BNI often don’t work. Is it because it’s difficult to find like-minded people locally, that Brits don’t like “American” concepts, or something else?