In Fresh, generosity is one of our core values. We believe in a giving mentality, helping our fellow members. It’s easy to think that ‘giving’ just means referrals, but it is so much more.
Long-standing Fresh member Rob Rankin from Rankin Business Lawyers – has plenty of clients who travel, and who he could refer to me. He knew that I was far less likely to have people who would need his services. But he said “Darren, I don’t expect referrals from you – all I ask is that when one of my clients comes to you, you treat them like gold.” That was what I was able to give in return – a service that made Rob look like a hero to his clients for introducing them to me, ensuring they had a hassle-free travel experience.
So what are some of the ways that we can practice a giving mentality in our networking?
• Advice – the Fresh ‘brains trust’ has so much expertise, and our generous members share this with their fellow Freshies. Again to use Rob as an example, not only did he entrust me with his valued clients, but he offered great advice that helped me to shape and grow my business. Now, I’m not suggesting that all Freshies offer their valuable services free of charge to each other – we’re all running businesses, that’s understood. But sometimes even just a few words of advice or a pointer in the right direction can make a big difference, and sharing information that.
• Expertise – when Carol Benton noticed that some fellow members struggled with their ‘time to shine’, she suggested to me that maybe Fresh could run training to help them. She took the time to develop a course, ‘Make the most of your pitch’ and then suggested a second course to help members with their 10-minute presentation. Carol shares her expertise, and reaps the rewards of getting to meet and help Freshies from right across the network.
• Encouragement and support – running a business, especially as a solopreneur, can be a lonely business. You work alone, all the decisions rest on your single pair of shoulders. Sometimes it can be a challenge – and never more so than during the pandemic lockdowns. I’ve had so many Freshies share stories of how the camaraderie and motivation of their fellow members has helped them at the toughest of times. “With my hub mates around me, I know I’m not alone”, said one member. “I know there is always someone to talk to and discuss things with”.
• Don’t sell – none of us join a networking group to be sold to. Our motto ‘If you sell, you will repel’ makes it pretty clear that we’re not here to spruik our wares. You’re not showing a giving attitude if you just see the other people in the room as potential buyers. So think relational, not transactional.
• Introductions – one of the best gifts you can give is an introduction. Sometimes you meet someone and you just know they’d click with another one of your contacts. Introductions are not all referrals. You might introduce two people because they are in the same industry and be able to share experiences and information. They might have a mutual interest outside of their work. It’s a wonderful feeling to introduce two people who then form an ongoing relationship – and that’s your ‘reward’.
• Giving your time – a networking group needs a leadership team, and they give their time to make sure that meetings are well planned, dynamic and welcoming and that guests are treated like gold, to maximise hub growth. It’s easy to say ‘I just don’t have the time’ when asked to take on a leadership position, but frankly no-one in Fresh is swanning around with time on their hands! So do think about a giving mentality with your time, and maybe put your hand up before you’re asked.
• Building a strong professional community – generosity is best shown by example. No-one can force someone to be generous, but you can lead the way with your own behaviour. The way that you show up at meetings, your participation, your preparation, bringing guests – these all show that you are giving to your hub, by helping to build a dynamic and vibrant environment which benefits everyone.
Whilst generosity is giving without expectation of receiving, it does actually generate massive rewards. Not only do you feel great when you know you have helped someone, but generosity equals visibility. The visible you are within a network, the more you get from it.
I certainly know that when I have the opportunity to give back, I think first of those people who have been the most generous – with their time, their introductions, their leadership – to me and to Fresh. It might not happen the very next day, it’s a long term game, but generosity has a very long shelf-life.
Don’t be one of those people who sees giving as a burden. Giving is a privilege and a pleasure and practicing a giving mentality, will come back to you multiple times over. The ‘richest’ people I have met are the ones that give the most. So I encourage you to think of your networking through the lens of a giving mentality.