After all, the world’s most powerful economy has just elected a president with a business reputation for stiffing small suppliers and who has never knowingly given a sucker an even break.
But I believe that people like Trump are the exception. The rest of us are not so self-centered or emotionally hollowed out. For most of us it feels good to help somebody out with information, a useful business contact or a referral. Simple things like sharing or liking content and social media posts are often simple acts of generosity carried out millions of times each day without any expectation of getting something back.
Most of us are not in business just to make money. Our work is a large part of our lives and we’re much happier if the way we act in business reflects our personality and humanity.
Business networking is more rewarding when you approach it with a generous spirit. I’m not talking about the transactional referral processes you see with some networks (bring 10 referrals to the group and expect to get 10 in return), I’m talking about the networks where you want to know more about other businesses and everyone tries to help each other in small ways.
I always try to send people information that I think might be useful or interesting. I frankly don’t care whether there’s any reciprocal benefit. It just feels like the the right thing to do and it makes me feel better.
And when, as happened recently, somebody sends me useful information about a lead and potential contract I’m incredibly grateful. As always, I thanked them, immediately followed up the lead and explained to how I was made aware of them.
For the prospective client they could immediately get the sense that they are dealing with somebody who has positive and collaborative business relationships. This can never be a bad thing. It reflected well on my business and on the one that had referred the contact.
Without wishing to get too philosophical, the world has some serious issues to confront in the coming decades. Cutthroat competition and an obsession with putting our own interests first will lead us all into the abyss. A bit more generosity all round will help us to build something better for future generations.
Hugh Graham is an experienced presentation skills coach. He helps businesses of all sizes to approach 'must win' presentations and bids with confidence.