It's been a big year for me. Got engaged. Revamped my business plan. Pivoted the business. Got married. Took three weeks off for the first time in 10 years. It's this kind of year where you realize who people really are. Really. I tried to ask for help. Sometimes it worked. More often, it didn't. Someone said to me recently: "you're really good at paying it forward and you're not so good at promoting yourself." I'll admit, I took that as a big compliment. I get more value from helping people than almost anything. I champion self-promotion to others in every way possible. I tell coaching clients to make big asks. I tell organizational clients to use multiple channels to promote their brands. But I don't do it so well myself.
In a year like I have had--both professionally and personally--I've been constantly surprised by people. And not always in a good way. I don't help people because I want something in return. And I don't ask for help often. But this year I did. Multiple times. And the results, especially in business, were surprising.
Here's what I learned--it's so much easier to ignore than help. It's easy to ignore a voicemail, an email, a Facebook friend, a retweet request. If you turn a blind eye, you don't feel as badly. And that happens in business more often than we realize. There's a "me" mentality in business these days. People are selfish. They're prioritizing things in business based on a WIFM (what's in it for me) mentality.
There are tons of messages this season about helping others socially and economically. But what about in business? How can we use the season to remember others...in business? Here are a few ideas:
1) Pay attention to your colleagues
I left my last job on December 31st last year. There were plenty of people in the office that day and yet I ate lunch alone. It would have been really awesome for someone to notice I was feeling a bit down, nervous about the change to come. Just someone noticing would have done wonders.
2) Promote a new business
Small business is the backbone of our economy. Go promote one! It's incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur and those who are living the #startuplife will be so grateful for the small token of support. Two start-ups I'm really proud of this holiday season? My friends Jamey Jeff and Scott Rothrock over at RemarkableHire (offering holiday discounts!), and the fabulous Lauren Thorp over at UmbaBox (can we say holiday shopping done?). Please check them both out.
3) Help a job-seeking friend
It's a tough time of year to be out of work. The good news? January and February are the biggest hiring months of the year. If you have job-seeking friends, send them a simple note: "I know you're still looking for work so I thought I'd ask...how can I help?"
4) Talk about and really thank the people who've helped you
Last year I blogged about the people who helped me in 2011. The post itself didn't get a ton of views, but it was really cathartic for me to think about the year, and who was so influential for me personally, and then thank them in a public way. It's also incredibly interesting to see how those relationships change and evolve. You can learn a great deal about people that way.
5) Make an introduction
Introduce two people out of the blue who could really benefit from knowing each other. There's a real value from getting a surprise introduction and that sort of altruism can lead to really valuable business relationships.
So stop being business selfish. Do something for someone in the spirit of the holiday season.
As for me, I'm far from perfect, in business and in life. I can learn too, help more and be a better business neighbor. So in that vein, what can I do for you? Let me know. I also bet I can predict who will retweet and share this blog post.